Aerospace company Lockheed Martin unveiled a spacecraft concept it says can land humans on the moon once again, responding to NASA's call for more missions to the moon and Mars.
Lockheed Martin's lunar lander is able to launch four astronauts and 2,000 pounds of cargo to the moon, and can remain on the moon's surface for up to two weeks before needing to refuel, the company said Wednesday in Germany.
"This lander could be used to establish a surface base, deliver scientific or commercial cargo, and conduct extraordinary exploration of the Moon," Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space, said in a statement.
The lander uses NASA-proven technologies and systems from the Orion spacecraft, which has already flown two orbits around Earth.
After direction from the Trump administration, NASA is working to return humans to the moon for the first time since the historic 1972 landing. The space agency has also asked aerospace experts to create plans for a space station, the "Lunar Gateway," that will orbit the moon and serve as a hub for moon missions.
"The Gateway is key to full, frequent and fast reusability of this lander," said Tim Cichan, space exploration architect at Lockheed Martin Space, who presented the lander concept at the International Astronautical Congress. "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."
Lockheed Martin says the new lander could help pave the way for future human missions to Mars.