Lockheed is getting into the reusable spacecraft business

March 14, 2015 8:04 AM

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Lockheed is getting into the reusable spacecraft business

Far and away, the most expensive part of manned spaceflight involves just getting the payload off the ground. But as humanity expands its extraterrestrial influence beyond the International Space Station to the moon, Mars and beyond, space-faring nations are increasingly turning to reusable shuttle vehicles to do much of the heavy lifting. Currently, Orbital ATK's Cygnus space vehicle and SpaceX's Dragon capsule are the only two systems cleared to dock at the ISS. On Thursday, however, Lockheed Martin unveiled its proposal for a third such system: the proprietary cargo pod, Exoliner, and autonomous space tug, Jupiter.

The Jupiter -- named for one of the two locomotives that met at the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, not the planet -- is the reusable portion of the system and will work in tandem with its disposable counterpart: the Exoliner supply module. Initially both the Jupiter and Exoline...

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