Lockheed Martin will help take NASA astronauts back to the Moon

Pablo Tucker
September 25, 2019

China has definitely gained space power over the past years, with its space industry growing extremely fast, while NASA is stuck with the Artemis program, desperately trying to meet Trump's deadline. In the fiscal year 2022, another three will follow (missions VI through VIII), based on a contract valued at $1.9 billion. Again, saving money and time for the space agency. This time they will be helped by ESA, who are designing the service module for NASA and Orion.

NASA is now on an incredibly ambitious timetable to send the new crewed missions to the moon by 2024.

The megadeal calls for a first phase including three capsules for $2.7 billion, for Artemis missions III to V - to take astronauts back to the moon.

NASA has finalized a contract with Lockheed Martin to order six more Orion space capsules.

Under new contract valued at more than $4.6 billion, Lockheed Martin will start work on the first capsule created to carry humans on a trip to the surface of the moon.

NASA says its newly awarded contract is an indefinite-delivery and indefinite-quantity deal that guarantees a minimum order of six Orion spacecraft and as many as a dozen spacecraft leading through September 2030.

In addition to the capsule that will orbit around the Moon attached to a mini-station (the Gateway), NASA asked the aerospace sector at the end of July to propose detailed vehicle projects to land two astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the first woman.

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

"This contract clearly shows NASA's commitment not only to Orion, but also to Artemis and its bold goal of sending humans to the Moon in the next five years", said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed's space business and a 2019 Wash100 victor.

The flight of the Artemis I mission - unmanned - is scheduled for 2020.

However, recently, the U.S. showed an increasing need for protection from potential threats caused by China's activity in space.

Kenneth Bowersox, NASA's acting associate administrator for human exploration and operation, raised doubts that the timeline is feasible.

"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.

"NASA has achieved a historic first milestone by completing the final join of the core stage structure for NASA's Space Launch System, the world's most powerful rocket", said Julie Bassler, the NASA SLS stages manager.

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