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"This lander could be used to establish a surface base, deliver scientific or commercial cargo, and conduct extraordinary exploration of the Moon", Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space, said in a statement. Plans for the Lunar Gateway were unveiled at a conference in Germany on Wednesday. According to a newly published Lockheed white paper, the lunar lander would carry a crew of four astronauts and an additional 2,000 pounds of payload cargo to the surface of the Moon where it could stay for up to two weeks before returning to the Gateway without refueling on the surface.

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.

Ahead of this however NASA wants to send astronauts in 2023 on an eight-day trip around the Moon aboard the Orion, a Lockheed Martin spaceship.

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".

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In August, researchers found frozen water on the Moon for the first time. Much of the hardware will be modeled on Lockheed's future deep-space crew capsule Orion, which the company has been developing for NASA and which reportedly costs $20 billion.

It's expected that the Mars Base Camp Precursor Lunar Lander could be running by the later part of next decade.

As part of the agreement, the unmanned spacecraft will be fitted with a NASA laser reflector created to help locate the exact position of the spaceship after landing.

NASA wanted innovative ideas for a return trip to the Moon and this is Lockheed's best attempt so far.

So, before forming even an approximate budget for a manned mission in the 2030s, NASA plans to wait for the results of the mission, Mars 2020, during which the Rover will collect and analyze samples from the surface of Mars.


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