Lockheed Martin unveils lunar lander concept

BREMEN, Germany — As NASA gears as much as help work on lunar lander designs, Lockheed Martin launched particulars Oct. 3 a couple of proposed reusable human lunar lander that leverages expertise used on the Orion spacecraft and ideas that might later be used for missions to Mars.

The lander, introduced throughout a session of the 69th Worldwide Astronautical Congress right here, is a single-stage automobile utilizing liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants that might transport a crew of 4 and a metric ton of cargo for stays of as much as two weeks on the lunar floor.

The lander relies on a design the corporate beforehand introduced final yr as a part of its Mars Base Camp structure for touchdown on the floor of Mars. Tim Cichan, house exploration architect at Lockheed Martin, described the lunar lander as a “precursor automobile” to that Mars design that might check out most of the applied sciences wanted for later Mars missions.

“It’s very clearly proper on that improvement path for the Mars Base Camp lander,” he stated in an interview. “We’ll be taught virtually all the pieces we have to be taught on the moon” except for flying in an environment.

The idea of operations for the lander entails making a propellant depot in lunar orbit by transporting water there, both from Earth or extracted from the lunar floor, and changing it to liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The lander would journey to the depot to replenish, then transit to the Gateway to select up crew and cargo earlier than heading to the lunar floor. The lander might spend as much as two weeks to the lunar floor earlier than lifting off and heading again to the Gateway.

By working from the Gateway, the lander can entry just about any a part of the lunar floor. “The great factor about having an on-orbit refuelable system that doesn’t require in situ useful resource utilization on the floor initially is that you are able to do sortie missions sustainably,” stated Lockheed Martin’s Rob Chambers.

The lander would have a dry mass of twenty-two metric tons, or 62 metric tons when absolutely fueled. Whereas the lander is half the peak of the sooner Mars idea, the spacecraft continues to be 14 meters tall. A “easy elevator platform” can be utilized by crews to descent from the crew cabin on the prime of the lander to the floor.

That crew cabin will likely be primarily based closely on Lockheed Martin’s work on Orion. “The crew cabin may be very a lot Orion inside,” Cichan stated. “We’re utilizing the identical shows, avionics, life help techniques in that crew cabin.”

Cichan described the design introduced on the convention as on the “conceptual” stage. “As a result of it’s primarily based on plenty of heritage gear, together with lots of Orion heritage,” he stated, “it holds collectively fairly effectively.”

One determination the corporate hasn’t made is on the lander’s propulsion system, aside from the usage of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, the one propellant mixture the corporate believes could make a single-stage reusable lander possible. Cichan stated both Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10 or Blue Origin’s BE-3 could possibly be used on this method, which requires engines to be deeply throttable to land effectively.

The announcement comes as NASA is laying the groundwork for future lunar lander improvement. The company issued a request for info earlier this yr for medium-class to “human-scale” lander ideas, adopted by an idea known as Versatile Lunar Explorer, or FLEx, landers. The company plans to solicit proposals for research of FLEx landers as a part of its Subsequent House Applied sciences for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program.

“What we’ve been doing has been maturing this immediately in direction of what it will imply for a few of these early landers that NASA needs to,” Chambers stated.

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