Returning to the moon as quickly as possible is a high priority, but how will we do it in 2024 if there are no suitable capsules and spacecraft yet? Lockheed Martin, an aerospace company, really believes this is possible.
Returning to the moon in 5 years is a very ambitious goal. The US has neither equipment suitable for landing on the moon, nor a spacecraft that makes it possible to return from there, nor a clear strategy for doing so.
NASA knew it would take a long time to return to the moon, but it wasn't a big priority. The intention was to first create the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway (LOP-G), the lunar orbital platform, from which it will be possible to launch missions not only on the Moon, but also on Mars. But now these plans are too far away.
Lockheed Martin says it is a very ambitious but fully achievable goal and offers all of its capsule design. Admittedly, Lockheed Martin offers to use Orion's space components – life-saving capsules, sensors, computers, etc. – to keep track of preparations by 2024.
In fact, the idea is right. The Orion spacecraft is designed for similar missions, including trips to TCS, Mars and Moon. However, crew testing is only planned in 2023, just a year before the moon. The Orion project must therefore be developed in parallel with the landing capsule. The latter will not be a copy of Orion and will only use some of the most important components.
NASA has already planned that the Moon Capsule will have three stages: landing, intermediate location and altitude. Lockheed Martin thinks it is no longer time consuming – the intermediate step will be specified by simply creating a larger destination module. Of course there will still be something that orbits around the moon.
There is also no time for Gateway stations, making it easier to use. Landing from a space station has one major advantage – it is easier to choose where you can land. It will probably be easier to land at the South Pole, where the astronauts would like to see Pence.
Moreover, it is interesting that this lunar capsule is partly plural. The descent module would remain on the moon, but everything that would come back would be restored and used again. Lockheed Martin emphasizes that this is a very difficult task, but if real work starts next year, it is possible to reach the moon in 2024.
Is it only necessary to hurry like this? After all, Orion is an important project in itself and needs a lot of attention. And the lunar orbit station must be complete, not partial. Will this rush not end in setbacks or more meaningful projects? Apparently we will find out in the coming years. NASA loves the Lockheed Martin offering because this capsule will use many of the components that already exist. Of course, very generous financing is still needed.