Interview with Bernard Foing about the European SMART-1 Mission
Interview with Prof. Dr. Bernard Foing from the European Space Agency (ESA)
1.) What do you think about the scientific results of the SMART-1 Mission?
We are very happy with the results. We have explored the polar moon regions, taken mineralogical fingerprints and for the first time measured the moon with an advanced infrared spectrometer. We have identified sites for future exploration.
2. ) Have you enjoyed working on the Smart-1 Mission and would you do it again?
It was a great challenge and I was involved from the beginning. We had have a good spirit in the team and worked with different institutes and industrial companies together. We reached in the three years of development all goals and we were always under pressure to reduce costs. On the otherhand, my time for other projects and for my family were affected.
3.) Do you wish a better support from European politicians or media in space affairs?
Yes, indeed many media reported about our missions to Moon, Venus and Mars but not always about the social use of space technologies for the normal life. Only through our research and advanced development work are modern communications and navigations technologies possible. Also the positive experiences and findings from our missions could inspire the Youth and public..
4.) The New Scientist was reporting in 2004 about engine problems with Smart-1, was it real, and if yes, how do you fix it?
Like always with new technologies everything did not run from the outset perfectly. And to this process belong also the engine problems ( a spontaneous switch off at the beginning. But through new software commands we promptly solved this problem.
5.) What is your opinion about the future moon exploration? Do you think a manned moon base is a good idea?
Overall on the world have countries an interest of the moon. At the moment there are a chinese and a japanese space probe around the Moon and in the near future will launch an indian space probe Chandrayaan-1 with three european instruments. And many other missions will follow and probably explore the moon with landers.
But also we humans can learn on the Moon to survive and can prepare the next steps to the universe.
6.) What are the next targets of the ESA?
The European Space Agency has a whole set of scientific missions to the further study of the universe. In addition to a better unterstanding of our own planet we will search after extrasolar planets and we will explore the moon and mars further.
Especially the Herschel mission, where we shall study solar systems in formation search and the Planck mission, where we will capture the first light after the big bang are important.
Furthermore the NASA will launch with the Space Shuttle our European Columbus Laboratory module for the International Space Station and two our astronauts are now on board.
7.) Do you believe that Russia will be in the near future a full member of the ESA?
We work on many missions with Russia together. For example we launch some our spacecraft with rockets from Baikonur and Plesetsk, and we are preparing the Soyuz rockets to launch from Kourou. But there are some different interests and our main partner beyond the EU are the USA. We have also collaborative missions with Japan, India and China.