To achieve this goal, NASA has called on aerospace industry producers to present plans to build a space station that orbits around the moon, dubbed the "Lunar Gateway", as well as spacecraft that land on the moon.
"This is a concept that takes full advantage of Gateway technology and existing technologies to create a versatile and powerful lander that can be built quickly and affordable".
The lander's first configuration will be capable of seating four astronauts as well as carrying up to 2,000lbs of cargo.
Lockheed sees the lander becoming the craft of choice for "international, commercial, and scientific communities" while relying on NASA's Gateway to provide the refueling and servicing it needs for repeat missions. To fulfill its vision, the space agency wants to rely on private space enterprises to meet its hardware needs, and Lockheed Martin is taking this role very seriously. 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.
Cichan continued: "Because this lander doesn't have to endure the punishment of re-entering Earth's atmosphere, it can be re-flown many times over without needing significant and costly refurbishment".
It's expected that the Mars Base Camp Precursor Lunar Lander could be running by the later part of next decade. Orion, which Lockheed is also building for NASA, and the Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, which is also in development, will help astronauts explore deep-space destinations, such as the moon and Mars, NASA officials have said. In an August speech, Vice President Mike Pence made clear that returning to the Moon is a top priority for the USA, an objective previously put forth by the Trump administration.
The Israeli Space Agency (ISA) announced Wednesday that it had signed an agreement with NASA to engage the American space agency in the first Israeli moon mission.