Lockheed Martin Unveils Lunar Lander Concept That Resembles a Star Wars Droid
This is not the lunar lander you are looking for, but it may be the one NASA is going to get. SpaceNews reports that Lockheed Martin recently unveiled its concept for a reusable human lunar lander at the 69th International Astronautical Congress. Large enough to carry four people and a metric ton of cargo, the lander uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as propellant...oh, and it looks like it just walked off the set of Return of the Jedi.
The lander concept is based on a previous design that Lockheed Martin showcased last year. "It's very clearly right on that development path for the Mars Base Camp lander," said space exploration architect Tim Cichan, adding that "we'll learn almost everything we need to learn on the moon." The spacecraft would stand 14 meters tall (half the height of the earlier design) and weigh 22 tons before and 62 tons after being fueled. To reach the lunar surface from that high up, the crew would ride on a "simple elevator platform," which they would obviously use again to re-enter the lander. Inside the cabin of the lander, Cichan says that there is a lot of Orion spacecraft DNA. "We are using the same displays, avionics, life support systems in that crew cabin." After two weeks on the moon, the lander would return to the Gateway to drop its passengers off. "The nice thing about having an on-orbit refuelable system that doesn't require in situ resource utilization on the surface initially is that you can do sortie missions sustainably," said Rob Chambers of Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin still has to decide which rocket to use to launch the lander, with Aerojet Rocketdyne's RL10 and Blue Origin's BE-3 both listed as options. Blue Origin just beat out Aerojet Rocketdyne for a United Launch Alliance contract, so Aerojet Rocketdyne could really use this win.