Lockheed Martin is building a Moon-to-Earth satellite communications network
Parsec will help astronauts stay in touch during lunar missions.
If humanity is going to have a long-term presence on the Moon, it's going to need reliable communications — and Lockheed Martin thinks it can provide that link. The company has created a spinoff devoted to lunar infrastructure, Crescent Space, whose first project is a Moon-to-Earth satellite network. Parsec, as it's called, uses a constellation of small lunar satellites to provide a non-stop connection between astronauts, their equipment and the people back home. The system will also provide navigation help.
The technology should help explorers keep in touch, and assist with spacecraft course changes. As Lockheed Martin explains, though, it could prove vital to those on lunar soil. Parsec's nodes create a lunar equivalent to GPS, giving astronauts their exact positions and directions back to base. A rover crew might know how to return home without driving into a dangerous crater, for instance.
Crescent's first Parsec nodes should be operational by 2025, with Lockheed Martin providing the satellites. And before you ask: yes, the company is clearly hoping for some big customers. CEO Joe Landon (formerly a Lockheed Martin Space VP) claims Crescent is "well positioned" to support NASA's Artemis Moon landings and other exploratory missions.
The startup may seem premature when NASA's Artemis program won't even conduct a lunar flyby until late 2024, and a landing at the end of 2025. However, there's already a clear race to the Moon that includes national efforts from the US and China as well as private projects like SpaceX's lunar tourism. Crescent could help Lockheed Martin profit from that rush without disrupting its existing businesses.