LOS ANGELES – NASA announced on September 23 that it will award Lockheed Martin a contract for the long-term production of the Orion spacecraft, which will cover twelve spacecraft to meet NASA's anticipated needs until the 2030s would.
The Orion The Production and Operations Agreement includes a first order of three Orion spacecraft for the $ 2.7 billion Artemis 3, 4 and 5 missions. NASA plans to buy three more Orion spacecraft for Artemis 6, 7 and 8 for $ 1.9 billion in 2022. These spacecraft are ordered under cost-plus contracts.
The contract includes the option for up to six additional Orion spacecraft to be ordered by September 2030. These are ordered under fixed-price contracts, with the price based on the cost data of the last six Orion spaceships.
"This agreement secures Orion's production over the next decade, demonstrating that NASA is committed to building a sustained presence on the Moon to bring back new knowledge and prepare for the deployment of astronauts to Mars." NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an agency statement to the contract: "This contract clearly shows that NASA is not only committed to Orion, but also to Artemis and has the courageous goal of sending people to the moon in the next five years," said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space, said in an accompanying statement from the company Eusability. Some interior components, from electronics to seats, from the Orion flying the Artemis 2 mission, are reused on the Orion for Artemis 5. The Artemis 3 Orion Crew Module Will Fly Back to Artemis 6 Much on how to design and manufacture a better Orion ̵
Hawes said in an April interview that reusability would play a role in achieving the goal of lowering Orion's production costs by 50% in the long run. At the time, the company had a slightly different reuse schedule, as it had expected to replace the Orion Crew module from what is now Artemis 4 on the Artemis 7 mission.
The new contract has been in progress for some time. Hawes announced in April that the company was finalizing a proposal for this deal with a 50% cost reduction target, although neither NASA nor Lockheed Martin said that this new contract will achieve that goal.
At a house hearing on September 18, Ken Bowersox, Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration and Operations in Humans, from the Space Subcommittee of the Science Committee, said he expected the long-term Orion agreement to be completed "fairly soon" and that the agency will move from price-plus to fixed-rate rewards. He also reiterated that after the Artemis 3 mission in 2024, NASA planned an Orion launch each year. If all the options of the treaty were exercised, this would cover NASA's missionary needs well beyond 2030.
NASA used the announcement highlighting the role of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, which manages the Orion program, in the broader Artemis program. In August, NASA was criticized by some members of the Texas Congressional delegation for handing over the Lunar Landing Program administration to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, although the work is mainly done by other companies. The Orion Treaty has taken the unusual step of making comments of three Texas congressional members: Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and Rep. Brian Babin. All three publicly criticized NASA's decision to provide Marshall with the Lunar Landing program, referring to Johnson's experience with manned spacecraft. Babin retired from a planned appearance on NASA's announcement of the Marshall lunar landing program. Bridenstine has followed my calls and is taking important steps to ensure that Johnson continues to grow with the upcoming exciting future of manned exploration, "said Cruz in the statement NASA, which he contained in a press release from his own office. "More needs to be done, and I'm looking forward to ramping up production in the coming weeks and months, with more opportunities for NASA." is performed at locations other than the Johnson Space Center. The Lockheed announcement stated that the assembly of the Artemis 2 Orion spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida was already "well on track".