Mars Base Camp

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What will a human Mars mission look like? How can we keep astronauts safe, healthy and productive for a three-year journey into deep space? What can they discover when they get to Mars? How do we build a road map from today’s low-Earth orbit missions to our first interplanetary journey?

At Lockheed Martin, our job is to challenge ourselves and our industry teammates to drive the innovation that helps make those grand achievements possible - quickly, safely and affordably.

Mars Base Camp is Lockheed Martin’s vision for sending humans to Mars in about a decade. The concept is simple: transport astronauts from Earth, via the Moon, to a Mars-orbiting science laboratory where they can perform real-time scientific exploration, analyze Martian rock and soil samples, and confirm the ideal place to land humans on the surface in the 2030s.

Mars Base Camp lays out a proposed technology road map to support NASA’s journey to Mars. This is a mission designed to be led by NASA and its international and commercial partners.

The Mars Base Camp concept is built on a strong foundation of today’s technologies – making it safe, affordable and achievable:

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The world’s only deep-space crew capsule, built with long-duration life support, deep space communications and navigation, and safe Earth re-entry capability. This is the mission Orion was born to do.
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Space Launch System

Super heavy lift designed to send critical labs, habitats and supplies to Mars.
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Building on our NextSTEP research and NASA’s Deep Space Gateway architecture, deep space habitats will give astronauts room to live and work on the way to and at Mars.
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Solar Electric Propulsion

Based on technology already in place on satellites, this advanced propulsion will pre-position key supplies in Mars orbit.

How does Mars Base Camp work?

The major components of the architecture will be launched separately. Some are pre-positioned in Mars orbit ahead of time. Others are assembled in cis-lunar space for the journey to Mars. Six astronauts will launch on Orion, which serves as the heart of the Mars Base Camp interplanetary ship.
Mars Orbit Configuration

Mars Lander

As valuable as orbiting missions are for science and exploration, we’ll eventually look to leave the base camp and descend to the surface.

The Mars Base Camp surface lander concept is a reusable, single-stage lander capable of descending to the surface from Mars orbit using supersonic retropropulsion. Each surface mission could last two weeks with up to four astronauts, and return to the orbiting Mars Base Camp without surface refueling or leaving assets behind.

The lander uses Orion avionics and systems as its command deck and is powered by engines using liquid-hydrogen/liquid-oxygen propellant, both of which will be generated from water.

Since the first Viking lander touched down on Mars 40 years ago, humanity has been fascinated with the Red Planet. Lockheed Martin built NASA’s first Mars lander and has been a part of every NASA Mars mission since. We’re ready to deliver the future, faster.

Mars is closer than you think. We’re ready to accelerate the journey.

Additional Information