On December 21, 2023, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian space company ALTEC signed in Rome a €3.5 million contract for the initial phase of the realization of the “Centro di Simulazione e Controllo Missioni Robotiche Lunari” (Lunar Robotic Mission Simulation and Control Center). The center will be constructed near the ALTEC structures in the heart of Turin’s aerospace city by the end of 2026.
ASI e @ALTECSpace hanno firmato un contratto da 3,5 milioni di euro per la fase iniziale di progettazione e realizzazione di un Centro di Simulazione e Controllo Missioni Robotiche Lunarihttps://t.co/DzXjaU77KB— Agenzia Spaziale ITA (@ASI_spazio) December 21, 2023
A guarantee: ALTEC’s experience in control centers
The new center will not be a first for ALTEC. Since 2019, the Turin-based company has operated the Rover Operation Control Center (ROCC). ROCC is the mission control facility for the ESA ExoMars rover, Rosalind Franklin, which should be launched to the red planet in October 2028.
At the ROCC, engineers will control and operate the Martian rover, getting additional information from its Ground Test model, Amalia. The earthling robotic twin will move on a simulated Martian terrain to rehearse numerous activities, from traveling through various terrains to deploying scientific instruments.
ALTEC already supports the operations for missions like Gaia and Euclid and operates as the European Ground Logistics Center for the ISS, managing the activities of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft.
From Moon to Mars
The new Lunar Robotic Center is a crucial aspect of the European plan to bring astronauts back to the Moon and eventually to Mars.
As per Vincenzo Giorgio, CEO of ALTEC, the next step is to gain experience with a robotic mission to the red planet, filled by the ExoMars mission.
Then, the challenge will be to bring humans to the Moon, supported by robots of many kinds, rovers included. The new center will have a pivotal role in the success of those missions, being also a strategic partner of NASA’s Artemis Program.
With the infrastructures and all the gained experience and competencies of the lunar center and the ROCC, it will finally be possible to design and operate human missions to the surface of Mars.