NASA, Israel Space Agency Sign Agreement for Commercial Lunar Cooperation

Astronaut Robert L. Curbeam mission specialist participates in the second of three STS-98 sessions of extravehicular activity

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"The highlights over the last sixty years for NASA start with the monumental space programmes they developed in a relatively small amount of time, beginning with the Mercury missions, the Gemini missions, but of course the Apollo missions in successfully sending people to the moon in 1969".

The massive lander is a single-stage reusable system capable of accommodating a crew of four and 2,000 pounds of cargo on the surface of the Moon for up to two weeks.

"This lander could be used to establish a surface base, deliver scientific or commercial cargo, and conduct extraordinary exploration of the Moon", Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space, said in a statement.

When astronauts finally walk on the moon again, they could be in for a long stay - as Lockheed Martin has shown off a giant lunar landerbuilt for two-week stints. Orion, which Lockheed is also building for NASA, and the Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, which is also in development, will help astronauts explore deep-space destinations, such as the moon and Mars, NASA officials have said.

Cichan continued: "Because this lander doesn't have to endure the punishment of re-entering Earth's atmosphere, it can be re-flown many times over without needing significant and costly refurbishment".

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"I'm thrilled to extend progress in commercial cooperation we've made in low-Earth orbit to the lunar environment with this new agreement with the Israel Space Agency and SpaceIL", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The moon lander can then stay on the surface of the moon for a fortnight before returning to the "mothership", where it will be refuelled and readied for its next lunar landing.

The lander is part of Blue Origin's broader mission of enabling a future in which millions of people live and work in space, the company said. That craft will be sent into space aboard NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), still under development and created to be the most powerful rocket ever built.

NASA wanted innovative ideas for a return trip to the Moon and this is Lockheed's best attempt so far.

NASA's goal is to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

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