Lockheed Martin recently revealed a spacecraft that can ferry supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Lockheed Martin's new reusable spaceflight architecture is in collision course with SpaceX, which already sends cargo to the ISS.
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has already handed over contracts for its resupply missions to the ISS to SpaceX and Orbital ATK. The space agency is also expected to hand over new contracts to other companies for its resupply missions. Boeing and Lockheed Martin have also submitted proposals to serve NASA's space missions.
Lockheed revealed that its spacecraft is not only capable of sending supplies to the ISS but can also serve as a place for astronauts to stay in space. The company revealed that the space service solution includes three key elements: Jupiter, the spacecraft; Exloliner, cargo container; and a robotic arm.
Lockheed suggests that the spacecraft will be launched atop an Atlas V rocket. Jupiter launches the Exoliner to the ISS where it is docked. ISS astronauts will be able to unload the supply on Exoliner and fill it with waste.
Once more cargo is needed at the ISS, a new Exoliner will be launched atop an Atlas V rocket. The Jupiter spacecraft, which is already in the orbit, can replace the old Exoliner with the new one and then dispose the old Exoliner using the Atlas V rocket.
"This concept is based on flight-proven technology," says Wanda Sigur, the vice president and general manager of Civil Space for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. "We're just bringing innovative technology together to make some much bigger things possible."
Lockheed Martin also revealed that Jupiter's design is the same as of the MAVEN spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Mars, and the Juno spacecraft, which is on its way to Jupiter.
Lockheed Martin highlights that Jupiter can also take humans to the space and accommodate big equipment such as a treadmill, which astronauts may need to exercise during their stay in the space. Although the priority of Jupiter is to serve ISS, the spacecraft can also be used for deep space missions.
Manned missions to Mars are also planned in the near future, and companies such as SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and more will try their best to earn more contracts from NASA.
Check out an animation video on how Lockheed Martin's Jupiter and Exoliner will work.