NASA is still making plans for its next-generation space station, the Deep Space Gateway that will sit in orbit of the moon. As part of that initiative, NASA is asking its commercial partners to develop technologies to pair with the station. One of those potential partner technologies has just been unveiled by Lockheed Martin, which is developing a lunar lander to take future astronauts to the surface of the moon.
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NASA’s Deep Space Gateway is still several years from beginning construction, and Lockheed’s lunar lander is still in a similar design stage. But someday, perhaps as early as next decade, this lander could be used to ferry astronauts between the Gateway and the lunar surface.
This design fits with NASA’s overall plan to incorporate private companies in the construction and operation of its upcoming space station. Recently, NASA launched a program it’s calling Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS. NASA is soliciting designs from private companies for a small uncrewed lander to collect samples from the moon’s surface and bring them back to the station.
Lockheed’s lander concept is a bit bigger than that, but it still fits with the overall theme. The lander is designed to fit four people and carry two tons of cargo to the moon and back. Lockheed hopes its lander concept will help other companies looking to design their own concepts and help NASA better understand what it wants out of the program.
Eventually, landers like this one could be used to find and collect ice from the moon’s surface. Ice harvested from the moon can be used to replenish oxygen supplies on the station, produce hydrogen fuel for spacecraft, and give astronauts fresh water to drink. A lander like this one could turn NASA’s Deep Space Gateway from a final destination to a refueling depot for trips to Mars or the outer solar system.