Lockheed's concept moon lander can carry four astronauts

Lockheed's concept moon lander can carry four astronauts

As a part of the agreement, a retro-reflector from NASA will be installed on SpaceIL's unmanned spacecraft.

Lockheed's vehicle would be be twice as tall as the Lunar Module used during the Apollo missions to the Moon almost half a century ago, reports Ars Technica, which carried two astronauts for brief stints of just a few days.

When astronauts finally walk on the moon again, they could be in for a long stay - as Lockheed Martin has shown off a giant lunar landerbuilt for two-week stints.

USA aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, responding to NASA's plans to renew the exploration of the moon and Mars in the next decade, unveiled Wednesday a concept spacecraft able to land on the lunar surface. Space.com notes that the expendable lunar lander that NASA used during the Apollo program carried two astronauts and weighed 4.7 tons without propellant.

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The spacecraft can fly a crew of four to the moon's orbit and then send them down to the surface in a lander.

"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 aerospace company has specifically designed the lunar lander to transport four astronauts between a space station, in this case, the NASA Gateway, to the lunar surface. "Because this lander doesn't have to endure the punishment of re-entering Earth's atmosphere, it can be re-flown many times over without needing significant and costly refurbishment". Important quantities of water can be found on the moon's polar region, which missions in the future can use to create fuel and oxygen for a manned outpost. "The SLS will be the largest and most powerful rocket ever built - all this energy, all this force, will lift American astronauts to space aboard the Orion capsule", Pence explained.

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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