During their presentation at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, Lockheed Martin outlined their Mars Base Camp “vision”. The initiative plans to have a six-man crew in a year-long orbit of the red planet within the next decade.
“Sending humans to Mars has always been a part of science fiction, but today we have the capability to make it a reality,” said vice president and general manager of Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin, Lisa Callahan. “Partnered with NASA, our vision leverages hardware currently in development and production. We’re proud to have Orion powered-on and completing testing in preparation for its Exploration Mission-1 flight and eventually its journey to Mars.”
Unlike many other projects looking to pursue a manned mission to Mars, the Lockheed Martin initiative is already testing the equipment they will be utilising. The company has already launched tested the Orion spacecraft, which will be used as Mars Base Camp’s main command unit. The Orion will soon be launched on its unmanned EM-1 mission around the moon and then, a manned EM-2 mission shortly thereafter. The EM-2 mission will also include the launch of the first elements of a pre-positioned lab that will await the arrival of Mars Base Camp within a Mars orbit.
Following the EM-1 and EM-2 missions, Lockheed Martin, in partnership with NASA will construct the near-lunar Deep Space Gateway. The gateway will then serve as a staging platform for the construction and launch of the Mars Base Camp. The Deep Space Gateway will also be used to open up the lunar surface to humanity for the first time since NASA’s Apollo missions over three decades ago.
Once ready, the manned Mars Base Camp will begin its three-year mission. This includes its flight to Mars, a year-long orbit of the red planet during which scientific experiments will be conducted, and finally the return trip in the Orion spacecraft.
Image Credit: Lockheed Martin