Lockheed Martin received a $ 4.6 billion contract to build at least six Orion spacecraft for NASA to meet the Trump administration's goal of returning astronauts to the moon, the company announced Monday ,
NASA placed an initial order for three Orion spacecraft for their $ 2.7 billion Artemis lunar missions. The space agency plans to order three more ships for a further $ 1.9 billion in fiscal year 2022.
"This contract clearly demonstrates that NASA is not only working for Orion, but also for Artemis, with the bold goal of sending people to the moon over the next five years," said Rick Ambrose , Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space. "We are equally committed to Orion and Artemis and produce these vehicles with a focus on cost, schedule and mission success."
Artemis is NASA's program to bring astronauts back to the moon by 2024.
NASA may order up to six copies of additional Orion spacecraft during the contract period until September 30, 2030. If NASA makes this option, Lockheed "would collect data on the production costs of spacecraft from the previous six missions [leverage] To enable the lowest possible unit prices, "the company said
NASA said ordering the spacecraft in triplets will enable lower costs due to supply chain efficiency. It is expected that the Orion spacecraft will be reused at least once.
Courtesy of Lockheed Martin
"This agreement secures Orion's production until the next decade, demonstrating NASA's commitment to building a sustained presence on the Moon to create new knowledge and preparation for the deployment of Astronauts to Mars, "said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "Orion is a high-performance, state-of-the-art spacecraft designed specifically for astronaut space missions, and is an integral part of the NASA infrastructure for Artemis missions and future solar system exploration."
Construction of the ships at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company said the first ship was ready to "bring the first woman and the next man to the moon by 2024".
The contract was announced under President Trump as part of a renewed focus on space exploration. White House officials called on NASA in May to accelerate their next scheduled lunar landing by 2024.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT FOX BUSINESS, expressed doubts that the timetable is feasible. He told a subcommittee of Congress earlier this month that he "would not bet on the impending birthday present of my eldest child or the like".
The Associated Press contributed to this report.