Topping-out ceremony for LUNA

The shell of the lunar training and technology centre is complete and the hall is now roofed over – perfect occasion for the topping-out ceremony for LUNA on 26 January 2024. At the invitation of ESA, which is responsible for the construction of the building, construction workers, architects, representatives of DLR’s facility management, project managers and staff, the LUNA Steering Board and astronauts Reinhold Ewald, Alexander Gerst, Matthias Maurer, Frank De Winne and ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, Daniel Neuenschwander, gathered in front of the building shell to celebrate the progress achieved so far.

from left: Andrea Casini (DLR), Thomas Uhlig (DLR), Marc Gerold (DLR), Hilka Engel-Junglas (ESA), Matthias Maurer (ESA), Frank De Winne (ESA), Juergen Schlutz (ESA), Petra Mittler (DLR), Marcus Weyerstrass (GOLDBECK), Marius Meissner (GOLDBECK), Jens Melder (DLR) © ESA/DLR

Welcome speeches by the ESA Director and Frank De Winne, Head of the European Astronaut Centre, emphasised the significance of LUNA for future international projects on the lunar surface. A number of stories from LUNA’s long development period were also shared.

From a lofty height beneath the topping-out wreath, the construction manager raised a glass to the new building and made the traditional topping-out toast. Following an old tradition, the glass was then thrown onto the building’s foundation, in keeping with the principle that “broken glass brings good luck”. DLR, as a project partner, symbolically handed over bread and salt as a sign of the imminent joint move-in.


However, there is still a lot of work to do in the coming weeks and months before the hall can be occupied and used for scientific purposes: once the interior work will be completed, filling with regolith will begin. This process that will take several months and will start this summer. At the same time, the “ground segment” will be installed, the various functional rooms outfitted, and sensors and other scientific instruments installed. The official opening is planned for autumn this year, but LUNA’s functions will continue to grow also after that event.