Lockheed Martin unveiled a new lunar lander concept at the International Astronautical Congress in Germany today, giving the public a look at a lander that may one day take a crew to the Moon. This is a reusable lander, the company explained, and it involves systems from NASA’s own Orion spacecraft, among other things. In addition to four people, the lander’s initial configuration would support a 2,000lbs cargo payload.
Lockheed’s new lunar concept is said to align with both NASA’s Mars and Gateway missions, the latter of which involves a Moon-orbiting space station. The concept involves a single stage and entirely reusable crewed lunar lander system. According to the company, the initial configuration would allow for a crew of four to spend a couple weeks on the Moon before returning to the planned NASA Gateway.
Once returned to the Gateway, Lockheed Martin says its reusable lander could be serviced, refueled, and then left ready for the next surface mission. The lander could be deployed to various sites on the Moon, the technology ultimately helping service a variety of needs, including scientific and commercial ones.
Lockheed’s space exploration architect Tim Cichan explained:
The Gateway is key to full, frequent and fast reusability of this lander. Because this lander doesn’t have to endure punishment of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, it can be re-flown many times over without needing significant and costly refurbishment. That’s a major advantage of the Gateway and of a modular, flexible, reusable approach to the deep space exploration.
All of this could help pave the way for eventually taking humans to Mars, offering lessons that could be incorporated into future manned Mars landers, among other things.
SOURCE: Lockheed Martin