The megadeal comes at the heels of NASA's next lunar mission which will take USA astronauts back to the Moon by 2024. Hawes said in April that the company was finalizing a proposal for that contract with that 50% cost reduction goal, although neither NASA nor Lockheed Martin said if this new contract will achieve that goal. The long-time government contractor will supply NASA with as many as 12 Orion spacecraft over the coming decade.
The Orion spacecraft consists of two parts, both using the same basic layout as the Apollo command and service module.
The Orion capsule must be able to bring astronauts to the Moon and back, and it must also be capable of traveling to Mars and beyond. As part of the collaboration, the Australian Space Agency will allocate $150 million for the development of new technology and concepts for NASA.
Following that, another six capsules may be ordered.
On Monday, NASA allocated $2.7 billion in a deal with Lockheed Martin, to build three Orion capsules.
The first set of Orion crew modules under the long-term contract will run NASA $2.7 billion. NASA plans to purchase three more Orion spacecraft, for Artemis 6, 7 and 8, in 2022 for $1.9 billion.
"With the design and development phase of Orion largely behind us, this new contract will enable us to increase efficiencies, reuse the spacecraft, and bring down the cost of reliably transporting people between earth and the Gateway". Interior components of the spacecraft, such as flight computers and other high value electronics, as well as crew seats and switch panels, will be re-flown on Artemis V. The Artemis III crew module will be re-flown on Artemis VI. Then, Artemis VI will use the entire crew module from Artemis III with suitable refurbishments.
Also included within the contract award is the production of Gateway, NASA's lunar-orbiting spaceship. Therefore, the Gateway Program won't have to design and test the same components again.
"The strong relationship between NASA and the Australian Space Agency affirms NASA's commitment to establish sustainable exploration with our commercial and worldwide partners by 2028", he added. He also reiterated that, after the Artemis 3 mission in 2024, NASA planned one Orion launch a year, meaning that if all the options in the contract are exercised, it will cover NASA's mission needs well beyond 2030. Artemis 1 would be an uncrewed trip around the moon and back, now set for the 2020-2021 time frame. Through Artemis, NASA will send the first woman and next man to the surface the Moon by 2024, and establish sustainable exploration with our commercial and worldwide partners by 2028.