Lockheed Martin unveils its lunar lander concept vehicle

NASA image of astronaut on moon

Future moon missions are going to go way beyond Apollo

Having the ability to visit multiple sites with a reusable lander, such as this one presented by Lockheed Martin, supports many worldwide, commercial and scientific collaborations, in addition to NASA's sustainable exploration of the Moon.

The massive lander is a single-stage reusable system capable of accommodating a crew of four and 2,000 pounds of cargo on the surface of the Moon for up to two weeks.

Lockheed Martin's lunar lander would be able to remain on the moon for up to fourteen days - ferrying astronauts back and forth from a space station.

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' space venture, Blue Origin, has signed a letter of intent to cooperate with Germany's OHB Group and MT Aerospace on a future mission to the moon that'll use Blue Origin's Blue Moon lunar lander.

Last December, Donald Trump signed off on a space policy directive that calls for NASA, along with its private partners, to send astronauts to the Moon and, "eventually", Mars. The lander will be created to dock with NASA's planned Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway for service, refueling, and storage in between missions.

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It would however need to be refueled between missions, potentially using water from the Moon's surface. Much of the hardware will be modeled on Lockheed's future deep-space crew capsule Orion, which the company has been developing for NASA and which reportedly costs $20 billion.

"Gateway is key to the total, frequent and rapid reuse of this lander", added Tim Cichan, space exploration architect at Lockheed Martin, who presented the Moon lander concept at the International Astronautical Congress.

The NASA's Gateway project provides global lunar access for a Moon lander. The company says it will also serve as a precursor for its Mars lander - also built to carry four people - which is integral to its Mars Base Camp orbiting mission.

According to the new agreement, which was announced on Wednesday, NASA will contribute a laser retroreflector array to aid with ground tracking and support in mission communication.

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