NASA Commits to Long-term Artemis Missions with Orion Production Contract

"Orion is a highly-capable, state-of-the-art spacecraft, designed specifically for deep space missions with astronauts, and an integral part of NASA's infrastructure for Artemis missions and future exploration of the solar system".

Australia will invest A$150 million ($101 million) in its companies and technology to help U.S. President Donald Trump's bid for a moon landing by 2024 and subsequent U.S. missions to Mars, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said over the weekend.

NASA's initial OPOC order, costing $2.7bn, is for three Orions as soon as possible to cover Artemis missions III, IV and V. The next three will be ordered in 2022 for Artemis missions VI, VII and VIII at a projected cost of $1.9bn.

The US space agency feels that ordering the capsules in groups of three will allow it to benefit from efficiencies which become available in the supply chain over the period of time.

NASA also hopes to be cost-efficient through spacecraft reuse: It's hoping to re-fly the Orion capsules it's purchasing at least once per spacecraft, beginning with Artemis II, the first crewed mission in the Artemis program, which will aim to do a Moon flyby but not actually touch down on the lunar surface. The new contract includes crew modules, complete launch abort systems, parts of the European service modules and adapters to connect the Orion crew modules with those modules.

The mission to the moon will rely on the Orion spacecraft.


For example, components such as seats, panels and valuable electronics used in Artemis II are expected to find their way into Artemis V; parts recovered from Artemis III will end up being reflown in Artemis VI; and so on.

It should help NASA save money on production costs.

The first six spacecraft will be acquired by cost-plus-incentive-fee ordering.

"The moon is actually a launching pad".

Orion spacecraft would be launched on NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System, another multibillion-dollar development program that has Boeing as the prime contractor for the rocket's core stage and avionics. These missions will be carrying NASA's first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.

"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. Artemis 1 would be an uncrewed trip around the moon and back, now set for the 2020-2021 time frame. It's part of NASA's broader Moon to Mars exploration approach, in which we will quickly and sustainably explore the Moon and use what we learn there to enable humanity's next giant leap, sending astronauts to Mars.

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