Space Exoloration

Space Exploration


Lockheed Martin IQ: OSIRIS-REx

Check out the replay of our first webinar in the Lockheed Martin IQ series about OSIRIS-REx. The panelists for the webinar are:

  • Sandy Freund, OSIRIS-REx Operations Manager from Lockheed Martin
  • Dr. Beau Bierhaus, TAGSAM Scientist also from Lockheed Martin; and
  • Dr. Erica Jawin, Postdoctoral Research Geologist at the Smithsonian Institution and OSIRIS-REx science team member

During the webinar the panelists discussed NASA’s inspiring asteroid sample return mission focusing on the science of OSIRIS-REx, the TAG event and the samples that will return to Earth. 

Human Landing System Downselect

 NASA has down-selected the National Team we’re part of for the next phase of the Human Landing System (HLS). The team — which is led by Blue Origin and includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper — is excited to use our combined heritage and advanced work on individual HLS elements to send astronauts to the surface of the Moon.  Learn more below.
Photo Credit: Blue Origin
Photo Credit: NASA

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.

Orion facts:

  • Orion is the safest human spacecraft ever built.
  • Orion has 30 percent more habitable volume (316 ft3) than Apollo, which allows for the safe and comfortable transport of up to four astronauts.
  • Orion was designed to accommodate 98 percent of the human population.
  • The powerful Launch Abort System (LAS) can immediately pull the crew out of harm’s way in the event of an emergency, both on the launch pad or during ascent.
  •  Orion’s life support system recycles air, detects and recovers from hazardous situations, and is capable of clearing heat, moisture and odors generated during physical activity, allowing the crew to exercise.
  • Orion’s heat shield is designed to withstand the extreme temperatures and pressures from high-velocity returns from the Moon and Mars. 

Lunar Exploration

Crewed Lunar Lander 

NASA has 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 has 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 also 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 also 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. 


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. It’s a central element to NASA’s Artemis program. By creating a sustainable lunar exploration program, astronauts can explore the surface of the Moon with future reusable lunar landers.

Our engineers are performing studies and creating designs to determine how Orion and future habitats will interface with the Gateway — how the life support, radiation protection, thermal control, power, rendezvous, proximity, operations and docking, and communication systems would best work in the environment of deep space.

Orion will play a key role in the creation of NASA’s lunar orbiting Gateway by integrating and leveraging NASA’s investment in Orion capability, systems and technologies. While other commercial vehicles and technologies will support the Gateway, Orion will be the workhorse behind the construction and build-up of the Gateway.

NextSTEP Lunar Habitat

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.  As a force multiplier, this makes every dollar invested by NASA go even further. 
Our work on the NextSTEP Habitat  is laying the groundwork for the next generation of deep space habitation systems. We’re even developing plans how to extend these habitats to the surface of the Moon or how to use them on long-duration missions to Mars.
We developed a full-scale prototype of a deep space habitat which we built at the Kennedy Space Center. The Lockheed Martin team refurbished the Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) and demonstrated to NASA capabilities necessary to support deep space exploration.
We are also building a Deep Space Avionics Integration Laboratory in Houston to demonstrate command and control between the gateway and Orion. Through the use of integrated flight software and simulated hardware, the lab will help reduce risk associated with critical data interfaces between Gateway elements. It also has an Orion cockpit that provides an environment for astronauts to interact with the software and train for various mission scenarios when it comes to human space travel.


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 Task Order #3 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. At full capacity, the cost on the McCandless lander is under $1 million/kg of payload.

Studying the delivery of NASA’s VIPER rover, our engineers evaluated factors such as delivery mass, power, thermal environment and data, and confirmed that the highly-capable McCandless lander could perform the mission. This type of mission is critical to provide risk reduction through reconnaissance and technology demonstrations for the Artemis program.

Robotics Leading the Way

From Viking’s first voyage to Mars in 1976, to Magellan’s revolutionary aerobreaking in 1989, to Lucy’s future trip to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids — our robotic engineering has been front and center when it comes to discovering the galaxy.

In fact, the spacecraft we design, build and operate have helped humans explore every planet in the solar system.

The experience and knowledge gathered from these robotic missions are giving scientists valuable data today and paving the way for the human spaceflight of tomorrow — back to the Moon and beyond.

Learn more about robotics leading the way for humans here.  

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.

Model-Based Artificial Intelligent Assistant (MAIA)

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

Human Interface

Machine Learning

Factory of the Future