Lockheed Martin has revealed a reusable lander meant to descend from NASAs Lunar orbital platform gateway on the surface of the moon for another manned mission. The aerospace corporation is asking for billions of dollars in funding from NASA to complete construction of theeir craft.
According to the company, Lockheeds new lander is capable of departing from the station, landing, staying for a couple weeks and then blasting off to rejoin the LOPG – which will serve as a kick off point for future manned missions to Mars and beyond.
The prototype can allegedly transport 4 carriers, a dry weight of 24 tons and a fueled weight of almost 900 kg (2000 pounds). Astronauts will be able to stay in the craft for up to 14 days and the round trip would fly in excess of 5000 m/s
Furthermore Lockheed Martin must design their craft to operate on liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Scientists have discovered water ice on the moon that can be turned in to this kind of fuel through a chemical process known as solar powered electrolysis.
In fact countries, corporations and non governmental organizations recently conveyed at an International Assembly to discuss the feasibility of mining ice on the moon for fuel to power future missions. The main agreement being to use a system of angled mirrors to re-direct light inside of cold craters filled with water ice. Lockheeds craft may play a serious preliminary role in establishing such operations.
The Italian Space Organization has also discovered water ice beneath the surface of Mars south pole, allowing for even more opportunity to power craft beyond earth orbit. Space-X director of exploration technologies recently explained how Elon Musks corporation plans to mine water-ice by drilling giant holes in to the surface of Mars.
Lockheed Martin is aiming for a 2024 launch target, one year after Blue Origin, 4 years after moon express, 5 years after astrobiotic, and two years after Elon Musk announced he would send his first interplanetary transport vessel to the Red Planet. A timeline of future commercial moon landings can be found here.
As for the latter Blue Origin is also developing a concept craft as part of an Airbus’ program to encourage commercial development of outerspace. A.C. Charania, manager of advanced programs at Blue Origin claims the lander will be able to carry a total of 10 000 lbs.
credit: blue origin
“The Moon Race” was revealed on the first of October and will include some big hitters in aerospace, construction, space exploration. These include national space organizations such as the European Space Agency, and Mexican Space Agency, as well as several private industries like Airbus, Vinci Construction and Blue Origin.
Since Moon Race is also aiming for a 2024 start, Lockheed Martin is in a way unofficially competing in the contest.
Teams will be able to sign up in 2019, prototypes will be due for 2020, test flights in 2021 and the final launch for 2024.