Returning to the Moon: NASA in megadeal with Lockheed for moon mission

NASA completed building and outfitting the Orion crew capsule for the first Artemis lunar mission in June 2019

It's an exciting time for Australia in space: the establishment of a new Australian Space Agency, the growth of new businesses in the local space industry, and collaborations with global agencies including NASA on their inspirational missions to the Moon and Mars that will create jobs and opportunities for Australians.

The contract is a "cost-plus" agreement, meaning that NASA will pay for the production of the capsules as well as incentive fees.

"No other spacecraft in the world can keep humans alive hundreds of thousands of miles from Earth for weeks at a time with the safety features, crew accommodations, technical innovations, and reliability that Orion provides", program manager Mark Kirasich said. The lower cost is because Lockheed Martin will be able to re-use some parts of previous vehicles.

This settlement means that initially three Orion capsules will be built, for the space launches called Artemis 3, 4 and 5.

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.

NASA recently placed an order for at least six Orion spacecraft from Lockheed Martin.

NASA believes that ordering in groups of three capsules - up to a dozen are now envisaged - should help it save money.

"NASA fully supports the idea of space security", he said. Work is well underway on both the Artemis I and II Orion spacecraft.

Orion spacecraft would be launched on NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System, another multibillion-dollar development program that has Boeing as the prime contractor for the rocket's core stage and avionics. Trump criticized NASA for their focus on moon during the anniversary of Apollo 11s moon landing.

Reusable Orion crew modules and systems, use of advanced manufacturing technologies, material and component bulk buys, and an accelerated mission cadence all contribute to considerable cost reductions on these production vehicles. "This is a great day for the men and women at Johnson Space Center", said Sen. Orion is NASA's deep space exploration spaceship that will carry astronauts from Earth to the Moon and bring them safely home.

"We are honoured by today's statement and the commitment of our friends from Australia to support us in our mission to return to the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis programme", Morhard said.

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