"We've designed it to do things no other spacecraft can do, go to places no astronaut has been and take us into a new era of human deep space exploration".
Australia is set to invest $101 million into President Trump's efforts to achieve another Moon landing by 2024 and send future USA missions to Mars, Reuters reports. Under the contract, NASA will order three Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions III through V for $2.7 billion. Around 2022, NASA will order three more vehicles for $1.9 billion.
Lockheed Martin landed a $4.6 billion contract to build at least six Orion space shuttles for NASA as it aims to meet the Trump administration's goal of returning astronauts to the moon, the company announced on Monday. "After we deliver the stage, NASA will transport it on the agency's Pegasus barge from Michoud to NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, for Green Run testing". The long-time government contractor will supply NASA with as many as 12 Orion spacecraft over the coming decade.
Altogether, NASA plans to buy hardware for up to a dozen Orion spacecraft by 2030 - with numerous systems reused from the previous vehicles.
NASA hopes that the OPOC will help speed along development of the Lunar Gateway program as well. 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.
The first six spacecraft will be acquired by cost-plus-incentive-fee ordering. According to Lockheed, construction has been completed for the Artemis I spacecraft and work continues on the Artemis II at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Johnson also manages the agency's Commercial Lunar Payload Services, the first two deliveries for which are targeted to launch to the Moon in July 2021.
Named after Greek deity Artemis, twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the moon, NASA's latest effort will help put the first woman and the next man on the moon's south pole by 2024. Morrison also stated that he will attempt to triple the Australian Space Agency budget to support the Artemis mission as well as the Moon to Mars mission that is planned for the future. The first manned Artemis II flight is scheduled for 2022.
The section of the spaceships that keeps astronauts alive - the service module - is to be designed and maintained by the European Space Agency.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced his nation's intention to join the United States' Moon to Mars exploration approach, including NASA's Artemis lunar programme.