The German Aerospace Centre (DLR) will fund a study to test the feasibility of soft and precise robotic moon landings.

The €1m study to be carried out by Astrium will last nine months and will conclude with the identification of the technical specifications of the landing vehicle.

The second phase of the study will involve the actual development and testing of the moon-landing module simulating a moon landing from earth.

During trial runs engine-supported descents from an altitude of 1.5km will be performed and sensors for carrying out the soft landings, including navigation and obstacle avoidance will be tested.

Astrium orbital systems and exploration head and senior vice president Michael Menking said that the test flight would position Germany as a systems leader for future European moon landing missions.

The trial runs will begin in 2012 at a still undecided testing area in Germany.

DLR Institute for Aerospace Systems and Astrium are also building a Bremen facility to simulate moon and Mars landings.