Space

Lockheed Martin previews next generation space cargo ships

Lockheed Martin previews next ...
Artist's concept of Jupiter/Exoliner docking with the ISS
Artist's concept of Jupiter/Exoliner docking with the ISS
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Diagram of Jupiter and Exoliner
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Diagram of Jupiter and Exoliner
Infographic of a Jupiter/Exoliner mission
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Infographic of a Jupiter/Exoliner mission
Infographic about Lockheed's CRS-2 proposal
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Infographic about Lockheed's CRS-2 proposal
Artist's concept of Jupiter/Exoliner docking with the ISS
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Artist's concept of Jupiter/Exoliner docking with the ISS
The Lockheed CRS-2 proposal consists of a service module, cargo module, and robotic arm
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The Lockheed CRS-2 proposal consists of a service module, cargo module, and robotic arm
Flight diagram for Lockheed's CRS-2 proposal
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Flight diagram for Lockheed's CRS-2 proposal
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Lockheed Martin has provided a glimpse at the next generation of commercial spacecraft by revealing its proposal for NASA's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) program. The new cargo ships, which Lockheed compares to the US transcontinental railroads of the 19th century, are designed to not only resupply the International Space Station (ISS), but also support manned deep space missions, such as the first expedition to Mars.

NASA's CRS-1 program has achieved considerable success in recent years with SpaceX's Dragon and Orbital Science Corporation's Cygnus cargo ships making supply runs to the ISS. However, these are just the first step in an on-going NASA effort to promote commercial spaceflight. Now Lockheed is taking the next step with its plans for CRS-2, which were unveiled on Thursday.

A collaboration of Lockheed, Thales Alenia in Italy and Canada's MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, the CRS-2 proposal consists of a reusable orbital vehicle called Jupiter, a cargo container named Exoliner, and a robotic arm. The idea is to create a system that is less expensive by millions of dollars per launch, more flexible, and with deep space capabilities.

Diagram of Jupiter and Exoliner
Diagram of Jupiter and Exoliner

The key part of Lockheed's CRS-2 proposal is the Jupiter module. Named after one of the locomotives present at the completion of the first line of the US transcontinental railroad in 1869, its architecture is based on the MAVEN Mars orbiter. Unlike other cargo ships, it's reusable, but is not designed to return to Earth. Instead, it would park in orbit and act as a space tug for cargo containers as they're sent up.

The second part is the Exoliner, which is based on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return probe. This includes a cargo container based on the Thales Alenia Space’s cargo carrier for the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and is capable of handling 6,500 kg (14,330 lb) of cargo.

The third part of the system is a robotic arm for Jupiter, which is based on the Canadian-built robotic arm that's been used on the Space Shuttle and ISS for 30 years.

The Lockheed CRS-2 proposal consists of a service module, cargo module, and robotic arm
The Lockheed CRS-2 proposal consists of a service module, cargo module, and robotic arm

For a first mission, Jupiter and an Exoliner would be launched together atop an Atlas V rocket. This pair would rendezvous with the ISS and after the cargo mission is completed, Jupiter and Exoliner would leave the station to meet with another Atlas launcher with another Exoliner. The arm on the Jupiter would swap the empty and full Exoliners and the Jupiter would return to the ISS, while the Atlas and the old Exoliner would burn up in a controlled reentry.

In between flights, the Jupiter would park in orbit. The next Exoliner would also carry hypergolic fuel for the Jupiter to replenish itself.

Flight diagram for Lockheed's CRS-2 proposal
Flight diagram for Lockheed's CRS-2 proposal

Lockheed sees the new system as having applications beyond resupplying the ISS, including pre-positioning supplies of food, water, fuel, and equipment for manned deep space missions, and acting as a habitat module for manned missions, such as an expedition to Mars.

"We know how important it is to get astronauts on the ISS the supplies they need on time, every time," says Wanda Sigur, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ Civil Space line of business. "Our approach is designed to deliver a large volume of critical supplies and cargo with each flight, and do so on schedule. That’s why we’re bringing together flight-proven technologies that are reliable, safe and cost-effective."

The video below outlines the CRS-2 proposal.

Source: Lockheed Martin via Aviation Week

Jupiter Solution

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6 comments
DemonDuck
This sounds like another boondoggle. Refueling in space -- not easy I bet. All the other claims of being on time are just as fragile as any other system. Because there is an out of sequence de-orbiting of one component doesn't create a reusable system.
Germano Pecoraro Designer
It's exaggerated compared with the first American trains. The idea of having a spacecraft service to move "around" to the space station, or to support future exploration missions to other planets is fine, but how will they get off the astronauts on these planets? The transfer from the Earth to the space station must be simplified, not further messed up. How much does that cost?
piperTom
It's not clear how this design is supposed to save anything. On all missions after the first, the "Jupiter" has to make two rendezvous in two different orbits. That means it has to change orbits twice, consuming fuel on both. The only savings is in the weight of the "Jupiter" vehicle, itself. Is that supposed to be large compared with fuel weight?
Also, "Jupiter" is a dumb name for anything related to space. We already have one big thing out there named Jupiter. Save confusion and call your new spacecraft TheMoon. ;-)
frogola
well it would stop the practice of throwing away a very expensive service module every time, and allow for more weight to be lifted on each consecutive flights. plus it could give us the ability to refuel and move things around in orbit and perhaps even farther. these capabilities will be mandatory for deep space travel.
stew
It would be nice if the sheeple actually have a clue what goes on at the ISS . The broadcast from the station looks fake and likely are. The real activities could resemble "Moonraker"
Emlyn
The Jupiter module is the only part that stays in orbit. This consists of the maneuvering thrusters, robotic arm and onboard navigation. The "Exoliner" which contains all of the items for delivery to the ISS is discarded after unloading. The Jupiter Module just attaches itself to a newly lofted "Exoliner" and delivers it to the ISS. The bigger payload is due to the Atlas V Medium lift configuration.