NASA has received Lockheed Martin’s design proposal for the replacement of the Space Shuttle Fleet – the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). The CEV will be capable of Low Earth Orbit (LEO), as well as transportation to the Moon and Mars.
â€œBasically what we came down on was the side of safety for the crew in making our decision to go with a lifting body,â€ said Patrick McKenzie, CEV Business Development Manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company to Space.com.
“For one, that approach allows more cross-range manoeuvrability, thus the craft can touchdown on land versus water. Secondly, a lifting body can lessen the g-loads on returning crews from long-duration space stints.
“Whether they are lengthy stays in Earth orbit, a prolonged mission on the Moon, or the round-trip trauma on the human body from a Mars mission â€“ the lifting body approach helps to minimize the g-forces on crew members.”
One feature of the companyâ€™s CEV design — along with the firmâ€™s teammates — is use of a titanium shell, along with two layers of thermal protection materials.
McKenzie noted the progressional elements of the creation and testing of their CEV as a staged affair, with capabilities starting with servicing the International Space Station (ISS), then upgrading to support NASA’s return to the Moon – followed by the mission to Mars.
“it makes sense to make sure that the vehicle that youâ€™re developing this first go-round is going to be lunar capable,â€ he added.
â€œWeâ€™re attempting to the best extent possible to build in modularity into our systems and maintainability and ease of operationsâ€¦so as new technologies and new capabilities are developed over the next 10 to 15 to 20 years, weâ€™ll be able to take advantage of those without having to totally redesign a new vehicle.”