Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space wins feasibility study on preparation for moon landings

Bremen, 5 June 2009 – Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space company, has been commissioned by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to conduct a study for the testing of future moon landings.

The aim is to prove the technological feasibility of a soft and precise robotic landing on the moon. Airbus Defence and Space has been selected due to the company’s outstanding technically expertise, with a strong foundation in place to both design and implement such a mission. The study will last nine months and be worth nearly € 1 million. It will conclude when the technical specifications for the landing vehicle have been determined. The next step will be the development, construction and testing of the vehicle to simulate a moon landing on Earth.


  •  Airbus Defence and Space receives DLR contract
  •  Trial carrier is to test moon landing technologies on Earth

A robotic moon landing specifically requires an autonomous and optical navigation system to carry out the landing smoothly and precisely, plus a very complex propulsion system. “The technologies for this type of landing are currently only available in part, or they have to be built from scratch,” study manager Dr. Peter Kyr said in Bremen on Friday. Kyr stressed that Airbus Defence and Space has top-grade know-how thanks to the successful ATV mission and the flight demonstrator PHOENIX.

The first phase of the study is scheduled to begin in June and should last nine months. During the second phase, the trial carrier will be used to test key technologies as well as the system designed to carry out the soft and precise landings. Engine-supported descents from an altitude of 1.5 kilometres will be performed during the planned trial flights and sensors for carrying out the soft landings, including navigation and obstacle avoidance, will also be tested. The trial runs will be conducted at a testing area in Germany, with the exact location being determined during the course of the study.

 The programme makes a significant contribution to positioning Germany as a systems leader for future European moon landing missions. The first trial flights of the demonstrator could take place as early as 2012 and represent a vital step in the development of European moon landing capabilities.

 “The decision to entrust Airbus Defence and Space with conducting this study confirms our competence and experience in this field,” said Dr. Michael Menking, Senior Vice-President and head of Orbital Systems and Exploration. “With the intended test flight of a moon landing module on Earth, Germany will earn itself a leading position for future national and European moon missions and will make Europe an equal partner on the international stage. Airbus Defence and Space has a significant part to play here.”

In addition, Airbus Defence and Space is working together with the DLR Institute for Aerospace Systems in Bremen on the construction of a facility to simulate moon and Mars landings. The company is also contributing towards an ESA study to develop a landing system. Today, Airbus Defence and Space is a European leader in the research and development of technologies to carry out soft and precise landings, which it finances mainly through its own assets.


Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2008, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.3 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment and Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services.

AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2008, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €43.3 billion and employed a workforce of more than 118, 000.


Press contacts:

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                       Tel.:  +44 (0)1 438 77 8180 

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                              Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel. :+49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41

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