Lockheed Martin has taken the wraps off its vision for a future manned lunar lander at International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Bremen, Germany. The concept spacecraft is designed to show how a reusable lander, in conjunction with NASA’s planned lunar Gateway deep-space orbital outpost, can support an indefinite human presence on the Moon as well as providing valuable experience for the first manned missions to Mars.
It’s been almost half a century since the last astronauts set foot on the Moon and with new US plans committing NASA to a program of sustained human exploration and exploitation of deep space, returning to the lunar surface will involve much more than simply taking up where Apollo left off. Not only has technology advanced considerably since the 1960s, but making more than temporary and sporadic visits to the Moon and beyond requires a whole new approach to space exploration.
The lander concept is designed to support manned lunar missions as well as act as a testbed for the first Mars missions. In fact, the lander is actually a smaller scale version of Lockheed’s manned Mars lander concept, without the streamlined aerodynamic shell needed for entering the Martian atmosphere.