Mars Base Camp

Mars Base Camp

Mars. It’s humanity’s next giant leap. And we’re closer than we’ve ever been.

What will a human Mars mission look like? How can we keep astronauts safe, healthy and productive for a three-year journey into deep space? What can they discover when they get to Mars? How do we build a road map from today’s low-Earth orbit missions to our first interplanetary journey?

At Lockheed Martin, our job is to challenge ourselves and our industry teammates to drive the innovation that helps make those grand achievements possible - quickly, safely and affordably.

Mars Base Camp is Lockheed Martin’s vision for sending humans to Mars by 2028. The concept is simple: transport astronauts from Earth to a Mars-orbiting science laboratory where they can perform real-time scientific exploration, analyze Martian rock and soil samples, and confirm the ideal place to land humans on the surface in the 2030s.

Mars Base Camp lays out a proposed technology road map to support NASA’s Journey to Mars. This is a mission designed to be led by NASA and its international and commercial partners. As exemplified by collaboration on the International Space Station, the contribution of additional resources, technology, expertise and investment, will enhance the level and number of scientific investigations performed at Mars.

The Mars Base Camp concept is built on a strong foundation of today’s technologies – making it safe, affordable and achievable:

  • Orion: The world’s only deep-space crew capsule, built with long-duration life support, deep space communications and navigation, and safe Earth re-entry capability. This is the mission Orion was born to do.
  • Space Launch System: Super heavy lift designed to send critical labs, habitats and supplies to Mars.
  • Habitats: Building on our NextSTEP research, deep space habitats will give astronauts room to live and work on the way to and at Mars.
  • Solar Electric Propulsion: Based on technology already in place on satellites, this advanced propulsion will pre-position key supplies in Mars orbit.

How does Mars Base Camp work?

The major components of the architecture will be launched separately. Some are pre-positioned in Mars orbit ahead of time. Others are assembled in cis-lunar space for the journey to Mars. Six astronauts will launch on Orion, which serves as the heart of the Mars Base Camp interplanetary ship.

Mars Base Camp


2019 EM-1: SLS and Orion Certified for Human Deep Space Exploration

2021 EM-2: Start of Outpost Assembly in Cis-lunar Space

2024 EM-4: Perform Cis-lunar Science with Deep Space Lab and Propulsion  

2027 EM-6/7: Pre-Departure System Tests of Assembled Mars Base Camp  

2019 AA2:  Ascent Abort System Certification

2022: Next Mars Orbiter Comm Relay Staging and Remote Sensing  

2025 EM-5: Long-duration Low-Gravity Asteroid Science Operations  

2028 MBC-1: Depart for Mars  

2020: Mars Rover 2020 Surface Exploration and Sample Cache  

2023 EM-3: Solar Electric Propulsion-Enabled Cis-lunar  

2026: Pre-deploy MBC Science Assets with Solar Electric Propulsion  

Since the first Viking lander touched down on Mars 40 years ago, humanity has been fascinated with the Red Planet. Lockheed Martin built NASA’s first Mars lander and has been a part of every NASA Mars mission since. We’re ready to deliver the future, faster.

The Mars Base Camp concept builds upon existing deep space technologies in development today and provides a blueprint for NASA’s journey to Mars. This plan provides the opportunity for significant scientific discovery, can be evolved to accommodate specific mission objectives, and ensures the safety of our astronauts.

Mars is closer than you think. We’re ready to accelerate the journey.


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Gary Napier