NEW YORK (Media:Luna 20 August 2003) — The project scientist heading the European Space Agency's first Lunar mission says that human settlement of the Moon can be accomplished within the next two decades.
In an interview with BBC News Online, Bernard Foing said that the capability of developing an outpost on the Moon may soon exist.
"We believe that technologically it's possible," Foing told BBC News Online. "But it will depend in the end on the political will to go and establish a human base for preparing for colonization of the Moon or to be used as a refuge for the human species."
Foing is the lead project scientist on ESA's unmanned Smart-1 mission, which represents the agency's first attempt at sending a spacecraft to the Moon. Delayed from a planned launch earlier this month, Smart-1 is currently scheduled for liftoff during the first week of September aboard the Ariane-5 launch vehicle. The Smart-1 mission will take about 16 months to reach its intended destination.
Public support is considered critical to any initiative for settlement of the Moon. A number of proposals exist, including the American-based Space Settlement Initiative (http://spacesettlement.org) and the international Lunar Settlement Initiative (http://www.lunarsettlement.org).
The latter proposal, which is currently being developed with the assistance of space law experts from around the world, has received widespread support for providing a framework to permit privately-funded exploration, settlement and development of the Moon and its resources.