Lockheed Martin plans to have base camp orbiting Mars to explore Red Planet
Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is planning to set up a laboratory orbiting Mars that would act as a base camp meant to explore the Red Planet. Lockheed would unveil a concept design for the base camp that would be a six-person spacecraft at the Humans to Mars conference in Washington DC on Wednesday.
The plan is to set up the lab on Mars in 2028. Orbiting Mars is considered as the basic step in human exploration of the planet. Tony Antonelli, Lockheed Martin’s chief technologist for civil space exploration, was of the view that orbiting Mars is vital to land humans on Martian surface.
The spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin includes living quarters for the crew, solar arrays to generate power and a laboratory, which can be used to carry out experiments on soil samples and assess potential landing spots.
Astronauts will be able to control drones and rovers on the Martian surface in real-time from the laboratory.
Till now, NASA has outlined the first few steps to Mars. It is building a heavy-life rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), and has been working with Lockheed to develop the Orion crew capsule. The rocket will be launched without crew members for the first time in 2018.
In 2023, the capsule will carry astronauts into deep space, just beyond the moon, for the first time ever. NASA has not commissioned Lockheed to come up with the Base Camp concept. The company hopes that the space agency will consider the design as it continues to strengthen its plans to land on Mars in the 2030s or 40s.
Lockheed is not the only company that has Mars ambitions as Elon Musk is also planning to send an unmanned Dragon 2 craft to Mars as soon as 2018. Both the companies will work with NASA that aims to place humans on Mars in the 2030s or 2040s.
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