The first woman on the moon may be just years away, according to Blue Origins founder Jeff Bezos. His team has been working with top leaders in space technology to win a bid from NASA to build lunar landers that will transport humans, including potentially the first female, to the moon's surface.
Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of commercial civil space at Lockheed Martin, said human curiosity is driving the company to compete for the chance to design the human landing system.
"We haven't been there in 48 years, and I think the technology is available now for us to do that. And, as humans, we like to explore," she told Cheddar.
The company was one of three tapped by Blue Origin to work on the project along with Northrop Grumman and Draper. According to Callahan, the partnership will prove the enterprise's capability to get the job done safely and efficiently.
"One of the things I'm really excited about the Blue Origin partnership is that it's really leveraging the entrepreneurship and innovation of Blue Origin with the heritage that Northrop Grumman, Draper, and Lockheed Martin bring. All three of the heritage companies participated in Apollo and have been operating in deep space and with humans for quite some time," Callahan said.
The company also secured a $4.6 billion contract from NASA last year to produce the Orion spacecraft for future missions
"We at Lockheed Martin are going to leverage our heritage in deep space exploration, and specifically the investment the government has made in the Orion spacecraft, to build the asset element as a part of the Blue Origin team," Callahan added.
Human exploration of the moon is just the tip of the iceberg for Lockheed Martin's plans. According to Callahan, trips to the moon will be test runs for missions to Mars, where astronauts will have full autonomy for extended periods of time.
"The trip to the Moon is just a few days where Mars is several months to a year, and so I think it's important if we want the humans to survive and we want to bring them back safely, that we have an opportunity to really practice that at the moon," she said.
Much like the International Space Station, which has had active astronauts aboard full-time since 2000, Lockheed Martin plans to set up shop on the moon in an effort to expand human knowledge of the solar system.
"Unlike the Apollo missions that they just had a few of, we really want to stay at the moon and learn how to operate, as I said, in deep space and then be able to use that as a launching off point to take humans even deeper into deep space," Callahan noted.