Lockheed Martin is certainly no stranger to spacecraft and it is now using that expertise to offer up a new ship capable of resupplying the International Space Station and other missions.
The company this week rolled out a three-part space system: a reusable space servicing vehicle called Jupiter; a large, versatile cargo container named the Exoliner; and a robotic arm.
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Lockheed said the Jupiter spacecraft builds upon the design of its MAVEN or Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN spacecraft, now in orbit around Mars, and OSIRIS-REx, currently under construction for an asteroid sample return mission. The Exoliner container is based upon teammate Thales Alenia Space’s cargo carrier used on the Automated Transfer Vehicle. The robotic arm was built by McDonald Dettwiler and Associates and utilizes technology used on the ISS and NASA’s Space Shuttle for more than 30 years.
The company also says Jupiter and the Exoliner cargo carrier could be pre-positioned with supplies of food, fuel, water and equipment for astronauts to use as they travel on manned missions to the moon or beyond. The company also says the system is large enough o carry astronauts in the future.
"Although our priority is going to be servicing the International Space Station and providing the ability to carry commercial payloads and deploy small satellites, we're also designing this system from the beginning to be able to do deep-space missions," said Lockheed Martin space exploration architect Josh Hopkins.
Lockheed Martin envisions its reusable spacecraft as one option to deliver commercial payloads to the ISS, as competitors SpaceX and Orbital do now.
The Lockheed system will compete for commercial launches along with Boeing and Sierra Nevada as well as SpaceX and Orbital when NASA awards contracts for additional missions to the ISS which should be announced later this summer. For more on the NASA Commercial Crew program go here.
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