The race to the Moon is on. Lockheed Martin has reimagined its lunar lander that will carry astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024.
The aerospace company unveiled the new design on Wednesday, April 10, at the 35th Space Symposium at Colorado. The new design is in adherence to NASA's plans to return humans to the surface of the moon in five years.
"We fully support accelerating NASA's goal of landing humans on the surface of the moon," the company stated on its website. "We've been conducting in-depth studies on what an accelerated landing schedule would require. With the right level of commitment, urgency and resources, humans could walk on the surface by 2024."
Lockheed Martin Unveils Redesigned Lunar Lander
The lunar lander will not be entirely new. The company explained that some components of the upcoming space vehicle will be reused from Orion, a crew capsule that Lockheed Martin is already building for NASA.
Lisa Callahan, vice president of programs and general manager for Lockheed Martin, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the company might need additional resources and work closely with the space agency to meet the deadline.
Lockheed Martin's lunar lander will carry the astronauts from the planned Gateway, a new space station, to the surface of the Moon. It will also ferry the astronauts back to the Gateway once their scientific work is over.
The Orion, which the company said is almost ready for launch, is scheduled to have its first uncrewed test flight next year. NASA originally planned a manned flight test by 2021, but the space agency might delay the launch to early 2023.
NASA Astronauts To Land On The Moon By 2024
At the 35th Space Symposium, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed the space agency's accelerated timeline to get its astronauts back to the Moon. The decision was a response to U.S. President Donald J. Trump's directive to send Americans to the lunar surface by 2024.
The space agency split its lunar mission into two phases.
"First, we are focused on speed to land the next man, and first woman, on the Moon by 2024," he said. "Second, we will establish sustainable missions by 2028."
NASA said that the manned mission will continue to target the moon's south pole for exploration.
The accelerated timeline might have been prompted by the growing list of countries like China and India that have expressed plans to leave their footprints on the surface of the Moon.