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Engineers design spacecraft to take humans to moon and beyond

05 October 2018

Putting human boots back on the moon is part of NASA's ambitious long-term goals for the next decade, which also includes landing the first humans on Mars and an asteroid.

The NASA-led program will see the two space agencies build a lunar satellite much like the International Space Station (ISS) that can home astronauts and will orbit the moon. The company offered no details on Wednesday about how it would move from the design phase to moon missions in this timeframe.

Lockheed Martin has unveiled the designs for a reusable lander built to ferry four astronauts and 1.1 tons of cargo between lunar orbit and the surface of the moon.

NASA has recently submitted to Congress a plan called the National Space Exploration Campaign, which immediately follows President Donald Trump Space Policy Directive-1 signed in December 2017.

According to a NASA statement, "the agreement exemplifies the innovative approach that NASA and its worldwide partners are taking to team up with commercial partners to advance important science and exploration objectives on and around the Moon".

The Deep Space Gateway is a collaboration between the United States and Russian Federation to create a lunar space station that will act as a "gateway to deep space". Initially, the craft should be capable of carrying up to four crew members and 2,000 lbs.

The arrangement could mesh with OHB's participation in a project to build a European-built module for the global lunar orbital platform known as the Gateway, which is due to take shape in the mid-2020s.

According to Tim Cichan, space exploration architect at Lockheed Martin Space, the reusability aspect was made easier because, " this lander doesn't have to endure the punishment of re-entering Earth's atmosphere, it can be re-flown many times over without needing significant and costly refurbishment.

The engines run on liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which can both be sourced by splitting water. Important quantities of water can be found on the moon's polar region, which missions in the future can use to create fuel and oxygen for a manned outpost.

Engineers design spacecraft to take humans to moon and beyond