The United States is returning to the moon and this is happening faster than you think. NASA returns to the moon in 2024, and maybe it only has the support of Congress.
Getting to the Moon is one thing, and since SpaceX has introduced a car into the asteroid belt, this future of boots on the moon after Apollo seems closer than ever. But what about landing on the moon? There was only one moon landing that took people to the moon and brought them back, and it is doubtful that design will be used again. Well, Lockheed has his own plan to land people on the moon, and they may do it by 2024.
Currently, NASA's plan to put a man on the moon revolves around a plan that is actually completely different than Apollo. Instead of sending a command module and a lunar explorer for a one-time voyage to the surface of the moon, future astronauts will arrive on the moon by first passing through a gateway. This Lunar Gateway is a strange orbit space station that looks like a highly eccentric polar orbit around the Moon, with a six to eight day orbit. Mathematically, this is an orbit around a Lagrange point on the Earth and the Moon, and requires slightly more fuel for access than a pure Moon orbit. However, this orbit is extremely cheap for many things that are not moon landings. First, orbit allows for continuous communication with the earth and can serve as a relay for operations on the other side of the moon. The entire surface of the Moon is accessible from this orbit, in contrast to the Apollo missions, which could only access the low latitudes of the Moon. This last point is especially important, as it is planned to put boots on the South Pole of the Moon, which has proven water resources. But to get to the surface, you need a lander, and there are many options.
Over the last 10 or 15 years, there have been many proposals for the next generation of spacecraft to land on the Moon. The first and biggest was an outgrowth of the constellation program. The Altair Lunar Lander was a massive three-story vehicle capable of supporting four astronauts on the moon for a week. Unlike the Apollo lunar lander, there is an airlock, and a cargo variant could place nearly fifteen tons of equipment, space modules, or supplies anywhere on the lunar surface. The Altair is an extraordinary vehicle, but after the Constellation program was discontinued in 2010, plans for the lander on the vine died.
In the years since the abolition of the Constellation program, plans for a lunar explorer have evolved. The astronauts will no longer repeat the mission profile of Apollo by flying to the moon, docking on a lander, diving into an equatorial orbit around the moon, going down to the surface, returning, and finally returning to Earth. The plan now foresees a moongate, and this requires a different lander type.
Lockheed Martin is currently working on an Orion-based lander concept, which is well suited to reach the moon via a lunar gate. The lunar part of this lander is about what you would expect – there is a decent module with a big engine and spider-like legs. In addition, there are residential areas that also have an engine to return to the lunar orbit. Unlike other plans, which are in fact a three-tier lander (with the first tier used to bring the ship to the moon), the Lockheed lander will consist of two parts based on common parts and a lot Mass can bring up to the lunar surface.
Is this really possible?
Lockheed's Lander is a proposed lunar lander that allows astronauts to put boat prints on the moon within about five years. That's not a lot of time, especially in the aerospace industry. Nevertheless, NASA believes that this can happen by 2024. Is it really possible to build a Lunar Lander in such a short time? The story says yes.
The development of the original Lunar Lander began in late 1962, and NASA's contract went to Grumman. The goal of this lunar lander was to simply bring two astronauts to the lunar surface and return to the lunar orbit. The implementation was very open to interpretation because no one really knew how to build a lunar lander. The design was established in 1963, when Grumman built the first Testlanders. In March 1969, the Lunar Module actually flew with astronauts in it and with Apollo 9. The Moon Landing Model was supposed to orbit the Moon two months later with Apollo 10. Two months later, Apollo 11 performed the first manned mission to the surface of the Moon. The design, development, testing and launch of the first Lunar lander lasted only six or seven years and it starts at zero.
It is very possible to build a Lunar lander that will arrive on the moon by 2024. I now have computers and we know that you do not need huge windows. There are already engines, and the room became commoditization. There are earlier designs for drawing. Rob Chambers, Director of Lockheed Martin's Space Exploration Strategy, says, "We need to turn metal next year." At some point, maybe earlier than we think, there may be a Lunar Lander assembly line ready to bring the cargo and crew back to the moon.