Space Exoloration

Space Exploration

 

Space Exploration

We go for the next generation. We go for progress. We go for a greater understanding of the universe. We go to prove that getting to Mars is possible by using today’s technology. We go forward to the Moon now for her first steps. We go for all of us, here on Earth.

For more than 60 years, space exploration has been our driving force at Lockheed Martin. In our high bays and advanced technology centers, we created an engine of innovation that continues to push for – and make possible – the permanent expansion of humanity into our solar system and beyond.

At Lockheed Martin, we go for the greatest adventure in human history.

The Moon

NASA asked the aerospace industry to get astronauts to the surface of the Moon, and we’ve rolled up our sleeves and are taking the challenge head-on. Lockheed Martin is partnered with Blue Origin, who assembled a national team to respond to this national priority. Other members of the National Team include Northrop Grumman and Draper.

Working together for over a year, the team’s integrated approach leverages our combined heritage and advanced work on individual elements of the Artemis Human Landing System (HLS). We feel strongly this is our nation’s best path to send humans to the surface of the Moon.

We bring experience in designing and manufacturing Orion, and four decades of experience in building more deep space spacecraft than all other U.S. companies combined.

The best way to safely and quickly accomplish a lunar landing is to leverage existing human-rated deep space technology from Orion for the lander’s crewed ascent element. Just like the Orion crew module, the ascent element is where astronauts will fly during the descent and ascent, and live while on the surface for days and weeks. Think of it as Orion inside. 

By using proven Orion avionics, software, life support, crew interfaces, mission operations, astronaut training and an established world-class supply chain, we can meet NASA’s goal of returning to the Moon — this time to stay. 

There’s no need to start with a clean sheet. Using existing and in-development systems will allow NASA to capture economies of scale and ensure compatibility with other elements of the Artemis architecture. 

How we will get to the Moon: Orion

NASA’s  Orion spacecraft is the only human capsule specifically designed and built to withstand the punishing environment of deep space. We designed Orion with the specific technology needed for the extremes of deep space, such as life support, navigation, radiation shielding, communications and its heat shield. The next test flight of Orion, on a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, called Artemis I, will take an uncrewed Orion beyond the Moon and back over about a three-week mission.

How we will live in Space: Lunar Gateway and NextSTEP Habitats

NASA’s lunar Gateway is a “space dock” that will orbit the Moon. It’s where astronauts will be able to perform revolutionary science, establish a lunar commercial economy, and build and test the system to get us to the surface of the Moon and on to Mars. By creating a sustainable lunar exploration program, astronauts can explore the surface of the Moon with future reusable lunar landers and rovers. While other commercial vehicles and technologies will support the Gateway, Orion will be the workhorse in the operations of the Gateway.

As part of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, we are studying the capabilities needed to support human pioneering in deep space. Habitats are essential for human exploration of the outer bounds of space. Through this partnership, not only are we working with NASA to understand and research the challenges of a lunar Gateway, we are also investing significant amounts of our own money to advance our design and build something that will serve commercial applications in addition to NASA’s. 

Our work on the NextSTEP habitat program is advancing designs for the next generation of deep space habitation systems, and how to extend these habitats to the surface of the Moon or how to use them on long-duration missions to Mars.

How we can explore the Moon together: CLPS

After being selected for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload (CLPS) catalog, the Lockheed Martin team continues to make progress for the robotic exploration of the Moon. Under a CLPS study, Lockheed Martin determined how the McCandless Lunar Lander can accommodate a large NASA science payload, supporting up to 1,000 kg capacity.

The McCandless lander provides transportation services for government, commercial and academic customers. 

Mars

Mars has intrigued humankind for hundreds if not thousands of years. It’s potentially the one place in our solar system beyond Earth that could have harbored life. We’ve been exploring Mars for more than five decades with robots and in the near future, we’ll explore Mars in person. Mars is in our past, it’s in our future and it’s in our DNA. 

Mars Base Camp

Our conceptual vision for the first interplanetary voyage to Mars is called  Mars Base Camp. While in orbit around the Red Planet, Mars Base Camp will provide astronauts a home away from Earth, a platform for conducting critical science and a base to send humans to the surface and back during its three-year mission. Mars Base Camp leverages the Orion spacecraft and the lunar Gateway and its elements to start human space exploration of Mars. A safe, affordable and achievable concept, our Mars orbiting outpost is designed to be led by NASA and its international and commercial partners.

Martian Robotics

Lockheed Martin is the only company that has built a spacecraft that has successfully landed on Mars…and we have done it four times. Beginning with NASA’s inaugural Viking missions to Mars in the 1970s, we have participated in every NASA mission to the planet since. InSight is NASA's 21st Mars mission and the 11th Mars spacecraft Lockheed Martin has manufactured. That extensive experience means that our engineers-built InSight with the most advanced technology and lessons learned from previous Mars missions. 

Landing on Mars means guiding a spacecraft like InSight more than 300 million miles to a select point in the Martian atmosphere that’s only 15 miles wide—that’s like hitting a hole-in-one from 2,100 miles away. Our propulsive landing systems help Mars landers, including Viking, Phoenix and now InSight, touch down safely. We are now protecting the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on the latest mission to Mars landing February 2021. 

We continue to explore advanced techniques needed to land heavier spacecraft that will carry humans, their gear and supplies, and the fuel needed for the 300-million-mile-plus trip – depending on where Mars is at the time of launch. 

Beyond

The Moon and Mars are in our future, but these do not have to be the final destinations. With advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing and mix reality visualization, human exploration further into our solar system is no longer science fiction of the far away future.

Artificial Intelligence

Imagine you’re in orbit around Mars, some 140 million(ish) miles away from Earth, and then something goes wrong. You can’t pick up the phone because it’s going to take 20 minutes for your signal to reach Houston. So, what do you do? You turn to all the data right at your fingertips — meet MAIA! Lockheed Martin Space is working on a technology initiative called MAIA (model-based artificial intelligent assistant) which is an onboard virtual reality and augmented reality system that is essentially a digital ecosystem of data. This gives astronauts a real-time, interactive representation of the vehicle and its environment, providing predictive capabilities for crew and vehicle alike.

By utilizing the convergence of new tools like high-power computing, AR and VR our experts are exploring ways to create a system that is constantly learning and providing meaningful information for the crew — transforming human spaceflight like never before.

Learn More: How AR and VR could Help Get Humans to Mars