Lockheed Martin's Proposed L2-Farside Mission Lockheed Martin_____________________________________________________________________________________
The Obama administration may have axed NASA’s ambitious manned moon exploration plans for even an even more ambitious deep space exploration agenda, but for those developing the technologies that will one day take us to deep space the moon is just too ripe a testing ground to ignore. Lockheed Martin is pitching NASA what’s being called an L2-Farside Mission that would launch a manned Orion spacecraft into a stationary halo orbit on the other side of the moon.
The mission, Lockheed says, will serve several purposes. Most immediately, it would allow astronauts to study, via unmanned robots, some lunar real estate that hasn’t been seen with human eyes since the Apollo missions. But its real function is to test out technologies and skills that will be necessary to make a manned trip to an asteroid, and then on to Mars.
The idea is to park an Orion space capsule at the L2 Lagrange point about 40,000 miles above the moon’s far side, where the combined gravity from the Earth and the moon would allow the spacecraft to essentially hover in one place in sync with the moon
Lockheed isn’t going anywhere by itself. To get to the Lagrange point without resorting to a complicated multi-rocket scheme, Lockheed needs NASA to supply a new heavy lift launch vehicle – something that the space agency is working on but doesn’t have on the shelf. It a new heavy lifter does materialize, Lockheed sees an L2-Farside mission feasible as early as 2016.
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