Unfortunately for NASA, it'll be all alone in its mission to Mars, as the ESA jumps ship to focus on the moon.
For the last few years, NASA has been laser focused on a groundbreaking mission to Mars, abandoning the possibility of going back to the moon — however, it appears that the agency’s usual partners have the opposite approach.
The European Space Agency has announced in a new video titled “The Moon Awakens” that it will be turning its attention to Earth’s satellite, joining China and Russia in a focus that doesn’t include the Red Planet, leaving NASA to do it all by itself, according to an Ars Technica report.
The ESA plans to take lessons learned from the International Space Station to get humans back to the moon ever since Apollo 17 returned to Earth in 1972.
In the ESA video, the narrator stated: “This new exploration will be achieved not in competition, as in the past, but through peaceful, international cooperation. Eventually we will see a sustained infrastructure for research and exploration where humans will live and work for prolonged periods. Here we will put into practice the lessons of the International Space Station, to establish a facility akin to those we see in Antarctica today. In the future the moon can become a place where the nations of the world work together.”
Little mention is made of Mars in the video, save for an indirect reference to exploring other parts of the Solar System once lessons are learned on the lunar surface.
NASA will probably help in some way with the moon missions, but since President Obama took the moon off the table in 2010 as a priority for NASA, it won’t be much assistance.