19:56 GMT31 July 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has signed a contract with Lockheed Martin for the production of the Orion crew capsule, which is expected to carry the first woman to the Moon as part of the Artemis program, NASA announced.

    "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."

    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.


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    United States, Lockheed Martin, ARTEMIS, Orion, NASA, Space, Moon
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