"The agency has awarded the Orion Production and Operations Contract (OPOC) to Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado. Spacecraft production for the Orion program, managed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will focus on reusability and building a sustainable presence on the lunar surface," NASA said in a Monday statement.
According to the release, Orion spacecraft are planned to be used in as many as 12 Artemis missions, "including one that will bring the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024."
I’m proud to announce a milestone for our #Artemis program to land the first woman & next man on the Moon by 2024. Today, we awarded a contract to @LockheedMartin for a @NASA_Orion spacecraft production line that will support as many as 12 missions. More: https://t.co/zUhe7CLgvk pic.twitter.com/etBmkx3dp4— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) September 23, 2019
Lockheed Martin has committed to produce a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 Orion spacecraft, with an ordering period lasting through September 2030, according to NASA.
"With this award, NASA is ordering three Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions III through V for $2.7 billion. The agency plans to order three additional Orion capsules in fiscal year 2022 for Artemis missions VI through VIII, at a total of $1.9 billion," NASA said.
NASA says its goal of sending two humans to the Lunar south pole in five years, as part of the Artemis program, depends on the successful completion and integration of three systems, the giant SLS (Space Launch System) rocket, the Orion crew capsule and the ground control unit.