Lockheed Martin signed a $ 4.6 billion contract to build at least six Orion space shuttles for NASA, as it aims to achieve the Trump administration's goal of returning astronauts to the moon, the company announced Monday.
NASA has initially commissioned three Orion spacecraft for its $ 2.7 billion lunar mission. The space agency plans to order three more ships in fiscal 2022 for an additional $ 1.9 billion.
"This treaty clearly shows NASA's commitment not only to Orion but also to Artemis and his bold goal of sending humans 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 we manufacture these vehicles with a focus on mission cost, timing and success."
Artemis is NASA's program to return astronauts to the moon by 2024.
NASA can order up to six additional Orion spacecraft during the contract period that expires on September 30, 2030. If NASA follows this variant, Lockheed will "[leverage] cost data for the production of spacecraft from the previous six missions to enable the lowest possible single unit cost," NASA said
said the spacecraft's order in three groups allow for lower costs due to the efficiency of the dos chain tavka. The Orion spacecraft is expected to be used at least once.
Courtesy of Lockheed Martin
"This treaty secures the production of Orion over the next decade, demonstrating NASA's commitment to establishing a steady presence on the moon to bring back new knowledge and preparation to send Mars astronauts." said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein. "Orion is an extremely capable, state-of-the-art spacecraft designed specifically for deep space missions with cosmonauts and an integral part of NASA's Artemis mission infrastructure and future solar system exploration."
Lockheed is vessel construction the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company said the first ship would be ready to "carry the first woman and the next man to the moon in 2024." White House officials called on NASA in May to accelerate its next planned moon landing by 2024, four years ahead of schedule.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE IN FOX BUSINESS
Kenneth Bowersoks, acting NASA associate administrator for human exploration and exploitation, raised doubts that the schedule was feasible. He told a subcommittee of Congress earlier this month that he "would not bet on my child's upcoming birthday gift or anything like that."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.