"We've designed it to do things no other spacecraft can do, go to places no astronaut has been and take us into a new era of human deep space exploration".
This new contract covers the first mission that will carry actual astronauts to the Moon, which NASA is still targeting for 2024, and covers additional missions spanning ordering periods running up to September 30, 2030.
NASA has designated $2.7 billion to Lockheed Martin, the US-based aerospace and defense company for preparing three Orion capsules for its Artemis missions III-V. The space agency's indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) Orion Production and Operations Contract (OPOC) is for an initial half-dozen of the manned capsules, with the option for six more to be ordered by 2030 for a potential total of 12. Ordering the spacecraft in groups of three allows NASA to benefit from efficiencies that become available in the supply chain over time - efficiencies that optimize production and lower costs. "Orion is a highly-capable, state-of-the-art spacecraft, designed specifically for deep space missions with astronauts, and an integral part of NASA's infrastructure for Artemis missions and future exploration of the solar system".More news: Italy overtakes China with 3405 Covid-19 deaths
The service module - the part of the ship that has the main elements to keep astronauts alive during their flight - is the responsibility of the European Space Agency.
The mission to the moon will rely on the Orion spacecraft.
Also included within the contract award is the production of Gateway, NASA's lunar-orbiting spaceship. The long-term plan of NASA is to reuse the recovered crew modules at least once.More news: Lakers, 76ers & Celtics Have All Been Hit With Positive COVID-19 Tests
The first six spacecraft would be acquired on a cost-plus basis, with a firm fixed price to be negotiated for follow-up orders.
NASA plans to phase in spacecraft reusability, starting with the reuse of interior components from Artemis 2 on the Artemis 5 Orion.
Lockheed is building the vessels at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "We've got 124 companies throughout the state of OH that are contributing to the space exploration mission".More news: A Toronto Distillery Is Producing Hand Sanitizer Instead Of Booze
NASA has connected the last of the five sections of the core the Space Launch System marking a major step in the big rocket's completion. Artemis II will be the first crewed mission when it orbits the moon in 2022 or 2023. The Orion Production and Operations Contract (OPOC) is part of the space agency's Artemis program that includes sending astronauts to the moon in 2024. It's part of NASA's broader Moon to Mars exploration approach, in which we will quickly and sustainably explore the Moon and use what we learn there to enable humanity's next giant leap, sending astronauts to Mars.