LOS ANGELES – NASA announced on September 23 that it has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for the long-term production of the Orion spacecraft covering 12 spacecraft that will meet NASA's anticipated needs in the 2030s.
Orion The Production and Operation Agreement includes the initial procurement of $ 2.7 billion for three Orion spacecraft for Artemis 3, 4 and 5 missions. NASA plans to buy three more Orion spacecraft for Artemis 6, 7 and 8 in 2022 for $ 1.9 billion. These spacecraft will be commissioned under expense contracts.
The contract includes the option of up to six additional Orion spacecrafts ordered by September 2030. These will be ordered under fixed price fixed price contracts, based on cost data from the previous six Orion spacecraft.
"This treaty secures the production of Orion over the next decade, demonstrating NASA's commitment to establishing a sustainable presence on the moon in order to bring back new knowledge and prepare to send Mars astronauts," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said in a statement to the contract agency.
"This agreement clearly demonstrates 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," Rick Ambrose, executive director of Lockheed Martin Space's vice president, said in the accompanying statement of the company.
The cost savings provided by NASA and Lockheed will come in part from r eusability. Some interior components, from electronics to seats, from Orion flying Artemis 2 will be reused in Orion for Artemis 5. The Orion crew module from Artemis 3 will fly again on Artemis 6.
“We learned a lot on how to design and produce better Orion ̵
In an April interview, Hawes also stated that reuse will play a role in achieving the goal of reducing production costs. Orion through 50% in the long term At that time the company had a slightly different re-use schedule, expecting to rely on the Orion crew module from what is now called Artemis 4 in the Artemis 7. Mission
has been working for some time. In April, Howes said the company was finalizing a proposal for that contract to reduce costs by 50%, though neither NASA nor Lockheed Martin said whether the new agreement would achieve that goal.
At the hearing of the House on September 18, the Space Subcommittee of the Scientific Committee, Ken Bowersox, acting associate administrator for human exploration and exploitation, stated that it expects Orion's long-term contract to be completed "fairly soon" and that the agency would switch from cost rewards plus a fixed price. He also reiterated that after Artemis 3's mission in 2024, NASA plans to launch an Orion year for a year, which means that if all options in the treaty are fulfilled, it will cover the needs of NASA's mission well beyond 2030.
NASA used the message to emphasize the role of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, which manages the Orion Program, in the broader Artemis program. In August, NASA criticized some members of the Texas congressional delegation for providing the Marshall Space Center in Alabama to the lunar landing program, though work will be done mostly by companies elsewhere.
A NASA announcement announcing the Orion Treaty took the unusual step of including comments from three members of Congress from Texas: Sens. Ted Cruz and John Kornin and resident Brian Babin. All three publicly criticized NASA's decision to give Marshall the lunar landing program, citing Johnson's expertise in spacecraft, and Babin declined to make the announcement at NASA's announcement of the Marshall lunar landing program.
"I am pleased that Administrator Bridenstein has listened to my calls and taken significant steps to ensure that Johnson continues to grow with the exciting future of the intelligence exploration to come," Cruz says in a NASA statement, commented, which he included in a message from his own cabinet. "More things have to be done and I look forward to increasing production over the coming weeks and months and more opportunities with NASA."
But as with the Marshall-led moon landing program, much of Orion's work will be performs at locations other than Johnson Space Center. Lockheed's announcement noted that the assembly of the Artemis 2 Orion spacecraft was "underway" at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.