Lockheed Martin plans to introduce a concept for a spacecraft that would be manned by six astronauts and would establish and operate a laboratory in Mars orbit by 2028, Popular Science reported Wednesday.
Sarah Fecht writes Lockheed plans to launch the “Mars Base Camp” concept at the Humans to Mars conference in support of NASA’s plan to land humans on Mars by 2030s.
“We think that orbiting Mars is a necessary precursor to landing humans on the surface,” said Tony Antonelli, chief technologist for civil space exploration at Lockheed.
“We think that putting scientists with laboratories right there in Mars orbit will allow them, in just a few months, to accomplish more science than we’ve been able to accomplish in the past 40 years,” he added.
Antonelli, a former NASA astronaut, said the company will use already available technology platforms for the orbital laboratory, including the Lockheed-built Orion crew capsule designed to provide communications and navigation support and a backup Orion vehicle for the crew.
In addition to the Orion capsules, the Mars Base Camp concept also includes laboratory modules, habitat and solar panels that would launch onboard the Space Launch System rocket in pieces, according to the report.