Fifty years back humanity started stepping out of its cradle into deep space for political reasons. The Moon, right there in Earth’s back yard, had been inspiring and calling humanity for ages and finally on the 20th July of 1969 humanity set foot, fulfilling one its greatest dreams. However, we stopped going to the Moon in 1972 and have never been back since, restricting human presence to low Earth orbit and leaving the Moon and the planets to robotic exploration. This year we do not only remember the achievements of fifty years ago, but we are planning for the next fifty years on the Moon under a vision called Moon Village, that is a Moon community.
The Moon is sparking global interest again, but this time for economic reasons. An orderly and fair use of resources will produce wealth and make the Moon Earth’s 8th continent offering major benefits to humanity and contributing to world peace. The US, China, India, Europe, Israel, Russia are launching missions to the Moon and in cis-lunar space preparing for tapping into these resources. This year, Chang’E-4 has landed on the dark side of the moon, and discoveries are being made every day. Israel’s Beresheet lander is heading for the Moon, and India’ Chandrayaan-2 mission to the Moon will follow. More players are getting involved in the Moon, not just governments, but also private industry realizing the potentials of lunar exploration and exploitation. The public is waiting to get involved in this endeavor. The question is how to connect all these independent initiatives and engage the public world over? The answer is the Moon Village. A community of stakeholders interested in using the Moon in a sustainable, open and peaceful manner for the benefit of all humanity, see above an artistic view.
In this context, the creation of a permanent global informal forum for stakeholders like governments, industry, academia and the general public interested in the development of the Moon Village is fundamental. For this reason, the Moon Village Association (MVA) was created in 2017 as an NGO registered in Vienna. MVA is a platform connecting activities from private industry, governments and others aimed to explore and use the Moon in a sustainable and peaceful manner. The MVA fosters cooperation for existing or planned Moon exploration programs, be they public or private initiatives. Please check the website to see the activities carried out by the Association.
As a platform, the MVA has the opportunity to organize and participate in many initiatives around the world, fostering the implementation of the Moon Village, one of humankind’s greatest challenges. Following its Principles, the MVA has granted particular importance in involving developing countries and citizens of the world in the Moon Village activities which guarantees a multi-stakeholder vision of the Moon Village. The exploration of the Moon is for all humankind as stated in the article I of the Outer Space Treaty (OST) of 1967. It is for this reason that the MVA aspires to reach out to African space institutions, organizations, and individuals interested in contributing to shaping the future vision of the Moon activities. African countries that have ratified the OST are currently involved in developing space-related industry and markets.
It is desirable that they join the MVA activities even without any space hardware development related to the Moon. It is only with the involvement of all the stakeholders participating actively in the activities that the spirit of the Moon Village is implemented. The purpose of the MVA is to make a significant contribution to Moon Village, without necessarily requiring the existence of formal international framework agreements or regulatory instruments. As example, In 2019, the MVA will cooperate with the World Space Week Association (WSWA). Under this partnership, WSWA will seek, during the first week of October, global public input on Lunar Exploration and development using material developed by MVA. This will be the first global consultation on this topic, and the results are to be presented at the Science and Technical Committee of COPUOS in February 2020. African countries opinion shall be sought and it will be an important input.
Today, the MVA comprises more than 200 individual and 26 institutional members from more than 35 countries representing a diverse array of technical, scientific, cultural and interdisciplinary fields. The MVA also partners with non-space organizations to promote international discussions and formulation of plans to foster the development of the Moon Village and is creating international, national and regional networks to engage civil society around the world. The Moon Village concept is becoming a reality, and Africa is encouraged to participate and create national and regional networks.
For information on how to become involved in joining the Moon Village Association, please visit: www.moonvillageassociation.org or contact: Emeline De Antonio, Public Relations & Communication, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Editor at Space in Africa. He writes about Africa’s NewSpace companies and emerging national space programs.