Germany hopes to put an unmanned space craft into the moon's orbit in the early part of the next decade, a senior German official said on Wednesday.
The lunar orbit mission will be useful for scientific research, Deputy Economy Minister Peter Hintze, the government's aerospace coordinator, told reporters. "It is also a chance for Germany to prove its competence in this area."
Hintze said a report prepared by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) would be presented to the government for consideration.
"The essence of this report is that it is possible and it makes sense," he said. "The political decision has not been made yet."
The project would be called LEO -- Lunar Exploration Orbiter -- and could be fired into space in 2012 if decisions are made and sufficient financing found, Hintze said.
He said initial costs for the project would be around 350 million euros ($513.6 million), which would cover the planning, building and launch of the spacecraft.