In addition to SpaceX, Lockheed Martin is another private company that is fully engaged in the race for the Martian conquest. During a conference at the International Astronautical Congress (in Australia), they have announced the new details of their space station for Mars.
The company is currently finalizing the development of Orion, a spacecraft that will be used to carry astronauts or cargo to the Moon and beyond. NASA hopes to use an Orion spacecraft along with its new rocket, the SLS (Space Launch System), to bring its first astronauts to Mars. However, Lockheed Martin has its own project.
The company is developing a space station called Mars Base Camp (MBC), which once listed will be towed by an unmanned Orion spacecraft into Mars’ orbit. This will serve as a base for astronauts traveling to the red planet, an idea that could solve, at least in part, the problem of creating the first habitable base on Mars.
During the event in the Australian city of Adelaide the company also introduced a completely reusable new ship in which they are working, whose purpose will be to descend to the red planet and return to the space station MBC when necessary. In other words, it is a descent vehicle from orbit.
The MBC will have two habitats for up to six astronauts and a common room for eating, living, performing exercises and scientific experiments. It will have two propulsion modules, two fuel tanks (liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen) and four gigantic solar panels for energy. Astronauts will be able to stay in this space station for up to 1,000 consecutive days, and from there send rovers and drones to the Martian surface, or descend themselves to look for samples.
The idea of Lockheed Martin is that this project is ready at the beginning of the decade of 2030. However, before that they will have to finalize the development of Orion and of a space port that they want to use to propel the ship to the Martian orbit.