Italy on Tuesday welcomed the signing of an "historic" agreement between the European Space Agency and NASA on a Lunar Gateway that will let astronauts to explore the Moon, around it and to prepare for a future mission to Mars.
"The signing of the Memorandum on the Lunar Gateway is a further cornerstone of a series of agreements that will allow humans to return to the Moon," said a statement from the Italian foreign ministry.
"Italy is at the forefront of ESA both as promoter of this agreement and as an industrial power," the statement continued.
The historic accord allows for ESM service modules for the NASA Orion spacecraft and I-HAB astronaut living modules, as well as communication, refueling and observation dome tools similar to those of the International Space Station, according to the statement.
"These elements will be built in Europe and largely in Italy, and ESA will have access to 3 flight and stay opportunities on the Gateway for European astronauts," said the statement.
The Gateway will help test technologies needed for future missions to Mars and involves collaboration with United States, Canada and Japan, the statement added.
"The results of this project will make it possible to protect and improve life on Earth and the related investments will bring progress for our knowledge economy and jobs for the European and especially Italian space industry," the statement underlined.