The European Space Agency (ESA) is planning to build a facility in Cologne, Germany, which will recreate the Moon’s surface – it will be called the Luna facility and will combine a moon habitat powered by an innovative energy system with a 1000 m2 area of simulated lunar soil, in an attempt to create a realistic Lunar environment which will facilitate astronaut training.
“The Moon is a major focus for ESA and the next step for human exploration. Developed in partnership with DLR, Luna will help us build our expertise, prepare for missions to the Moon and provide a platform for researchers across Europe to test technology and procedures.”
– Andreas Diekmann, ESA Project Manager for Strategic Planning and Future Development
Though the facility is still in its early development phase, the researchers have already managed to find a lunar dust substitute that is made out of volcanic powder from the eruptions of the Eifel volcanic region. This dust will simulate the lunar surface the astronauts will be training on.
The first designs for the FlexHab (Future Lunar Exploration Habitat) are also expected to be ready by the end of 2018.
There is not a lot of information yet about the details of the type of training the astronauts will do at the facility but we’ll most likely hear and see more of it as Luna develops and grows.