Engineers design spacecraft to take humans to moon and beyond

NASA image of astronaut on moon

This week, American aerospace/defense/security/tech company Lockheed Martin unveiled a new crewed lunar lander, created to work with NASA's Gateway lunar outpost and using the already-proven technology and systems from NASA's Orion humanity exploration spacecraft, for which Lockheed is the primary contractor.

Deep space travel, such as a journey to Mars, can significantly damage the gastrointestinal (GI) tissue of astronauts, and raise the risk of stomach and colon tumours, according to scientists including one of Indian origin.

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' space venture, Blue Origin, has signed a letter of intent to cooperate with Germany's OHB Group and MT Aerospace on a future mission to the moon that'll use Blue Origin's Blue Moon lunar lander.

The lander's first configuration will be capable of seating four astronauts as well as carrying up to 2,000lbs of cargo.

The lander would work alongside NASA's planned Deep Space Gateway space station, allowing astronauts to visit the moon quickly and for long periods.

Among the plan's strategic objectives, NASA calls for returning US astronauts on the surface of the moon. From there, they could stay on the lunar surface for two weeks then go back to the Gateway with no need for refueling. According to a lunar mineralogical map released by NASA past year, water is present nearly everywhere on the moon's surface, albeit in minute amounts.

Lunar lander, which is still in conceptual design phase, aims to provide reusable access to the moon's surface.

The lander uses NASA-proven technologies and systems from the Orion spacecraft, which has already flown two orbits around Earth. The company says it will also serve as a precursor for its Mars lander - also built to carry four people - which is integral to its Mars Base Camp orbiting mission.

Dr. Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL (left), Avi Blasberger, Director of the Israel Space Agency (ISA - second from left), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (second from right), and NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen (right), following the signing of the agreement.

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