Il Caffè Geopolitico attended the International Astronautical Conference Paris 2022. Undoubtedly, Lockheed Martin, the US aerospace and defense giant company, has been one of the protagonists. The company showed several projects for the future of space, including a new lunar rover.
LOCKHEED MARTIN VISION FOR EARTH ORBIT
Lockheed Martin presence at the IAC Paris 2022 looked at the future. At an event called “Space 2050: Boldly Going Into the Future”, the company presented its vision for the future of space exploration, based on technologies to be possibly developed over the coming decades. Regarding the Earth orbit, the company envisioned a future dominated by autonomous satellites directly built in orbit, powered by nuclear batteries or by irradiation coming from Earth. The capabilities will allow large-scale tracking of objects on the surface of our planet, even while these are in motion. There would be issues linked to a problem of privacy, of course, but also there might arise opportunities for disaster and emergency management, in addition to likely military applications.
Picture 1: – The entrance of the Paris Convention Center | Credits: Emiliano Battisti
LOCKHEED MARTIN VISION FOR THE MOON
The objective for the 2050 lunar exploration is making it Earth-independent. It means that the lunar outpost or outposts will be capable to get power, resources and construction materials on the Moon, with little- or no supply from the Earth. These capabilities would be essential to the voyage to Mars, where the distance does not allow a quick re-supply from Earth. New telecommunications satellites using quantum technology would grant the lunar communications. The power beaming technology would allow for power distribution on the Moon from generators through dedicated infrastructures.
Lockheed Martin, in collaboration with General Motors, is developing a new lunar rover, the Lunar Mobility Vehicle (LMV), aiming at transporting goods, materials and people on the Moon. The vehicle would be either fully autonomous or crewed and equipped with the Ultium battery, developed by GM, which would enable the vehicle to survive for a full 14-day lunar night. LMV’s sensors and onboard software would be designed to continuously sense and process surface details in real-time, adjusting the speed depending on the terrain. The astronauts of the Apollo program, who drove the Lunar Roving Vehicle in the early Seventies, discovered that the lunar gravity does not allow for great speed. According to Lockheed Martin, in case of damages to the vehicle, both crew and the vehicle itself could do the repairs.
Picture 2: Loockheed Martin’s panel “Space 2050: Boldly Going Into the Future” at IAC Paris 2022 | Credits: Emiliano Battisti|
WHAT IS MISSING (FOR NOW)?
It is impossible to know what would be the space exploration in 2050. One thing missing in several events and presentations at the IAC Paris 2022 was the complete architecture of a flight to the Moon, particularly the transfer vehicle and the lunar lander. As of today, the only two transfer vehicles in development and testing are the Starship of SpaceX (which lunar lander version is still at the development phase) and the Orion, NASA vehicle, which command module is developed and built just by Lockheed Martin. The transportation of crew and materials from Earth to the Moon and back is a key element of lunar exploration, its exploitation; competition in this field has just started.
Cover image: courtesy of Lockheed Martin