NASA doubled down on its commitment to Lockheed Martin spacecraft in September, finalizing a deal for at least six, and possibly as many as 12, Orion capsules to go to the moon and beyond.
The agency’s Orion Production and Operations Contract is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract for NASA to issue both cost-plus-incentive fee and firm-fixed-price orders.
Lockheed Martin is already at work on capsules for Artemis missions I and II. The new contract has NASA ordering three Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions III through V for $2.7 billion. In fiscal 2022, the agency plans to order three additional Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions VI-VIII for $1.9 billion.
The space agency and American taxpayers get a price break on the later builds, as those flights can re-use certain components, including computers, crew seats and switching panels.
Lockheed Martin has been the prime contractor during the development phase of the Orion program. “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,” says Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space.
The first spacecraft delivered on the contract, Artemis III, will carry the first woman and the next man to the moon in 2024, where they will dock with the Lunar Gateway and ultimately land on the surface. Orion is a critical part of NASA’s Artemis effort to give the U.S. a sustainable lunar presence with an eye toward a mission to Mars.
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville has management of the lunar lander program, though much of the work is being done in Florida and Texas.