Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti threw her hat in the ring to become the first European to land on the moon.
Under its Artemis program, the United States aims to return astronauts to the Moon later this decade and the European Space Agency is in talks to secure a seat on one of the landers.
“If things line up in such a way that I have the opportunity to land on the moon, of course I would love to do that,” Cristoforetti said during a speech at the European Moon Conference. space in Brussels on Wednesday.
ESA provides service modules for Artemis in exchange for seats for manned space missions. As it stands, ESA has secured three spots under the barter deal, but has yet to receive a commitment for a spot on a moon landing.
Cristoforetti, who returned last year from a mission commanding the International Space Station, will face stiff competition for any future seat.
In December, French President Emmanuel Macron opened the race to land a European on the lunar surface when he supported French astronaut Thomas Pesquet during a visit to NASA Headquarters alongside US Vice President Kamala. Harris.
Speaking at the European Space Conference, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said the chances of seeing “European boots on the Moon” were “pretty good” and talks were continuing with his counterparts from NASA.
“Whenever we get the slot, then the allocation will be two to three years before that,” Aschbacher added.
Cristoforetti is the only woman in the current cohort of European astronauts, although it is not yet clear whether Rome will lend similar political support to any plan to send her to the moon.
Last year, the current Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni bliss Cristoforetti for taking on the role of commander of the ISS, praising his “determination and passion”.