The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the USA has placed order for six Orion space craft on Lockheed Martin. The Orions will return man to the Moon and also take the first woman to the Moon over the next five years. The Orion is NASA’s deep space exploration spaceship which will carry astronauts from the Earth to the Moon and bring them back safely.

Lockheed Martin was the prime contractor during the development phase of the Orion. After the Apollos carried men into space, his sister Artemis will carry the next generation of Astronauts to the Moon.

Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space said, “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, we are equally committed to Orion and Artemis and producing these vehicles with a focus on cost, schedule and mission success.”

The agency’s Orion Production and Operations Contract (OPOC) is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contact for NASA to issue both cost-plus-incentive fee and firm-fixed-price orders. Initially, NASA has ordered three Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions III-V for $2.7 billion. Then in fiscal year 2022, the agency plans to order three additional Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions VI-VIII for $1.9 billion. Up to six additional Orion spacecraft may be ordered under the IDIQ contract through Sept. 30, 2030, leveraging spacecraft production cost data from the previous six missions to enable the lowest possible unit prices.

The Orion is a reusable crew module. Lockheed Martin has used advanced manufacturing technologies and material. Further bulk procurement of components along with an accelerated mission cadence has led to considerable reduction in the production cost of these vehicles. The first spacecraft which will delivered on this contract is the Artemis III which will carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon in 2024. The craft will dock with the Gateway and ultimately land on the surface using a lunar landing system. Orion is a critical part of the agency’s Artemis programme to build a sustainable presence on the lunar surface. It will further prepare man to move on to Mars.