United States 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.
NASA has signed an agreement with the Israel Space Agency and the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL to collaborate on the Jewish state's unmanned moon mission slated to launch from Cape Canaveral next year, Israelnationalnews reports.
Lockheed Martin's design will remain at the Deep Space Gateway until astronauts need to be taken to the moon.
The lander would work alongside NASA's planned Deep Space Gateway space station, allowing astronauts to visit the moon quickly and for long periods.
Last December, Donald Trump signed off on a space policy directive that calls for NASA, along with its private partners, to send astronauts to the Moon and, "eventually", Mars. The aim is to develop "an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and worldwide partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities".
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According to a NASA statement, "the agreement exemplifies the innovative approach that NASA and its global partners are taking to team up with commercial partners to advance important science and exploration objectives on and around the Moon".
Lockheed sees the lander becoming the craft of choice for "international, commercial, and scientific communities" while relying on NASA's Gateway to provide the refueling and servicing it needs for repeat missions.
Blue Origin is at the 69 Annual International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany this week, where it has joined leading space companies and agencies to support the creation of The Moon Race, a non-profit working to launch a competition for teams looking for a ride to the lunar surface.
Lockheed's lunar lander will serve as a precursor to an even more ambitious spacecraft: a Mars lander. An excursion to the Red Planet could have some serious health effects - and researchers are asking NASA to hold off on any big space missions until they know more. "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.