NASA wants 3 more Orion capsules for missions to the Moon
The NASA continue to develop the program Artemis. Waiting for take off of Artemis 1the US space agency announced having ordered three more Orion capsules from Lockheed Martin. This order has a value of approximately €2.04 billion and the capsules are intended for use during missions Artemis 6 to 8.
Faced with this very large order, Lockheed Martin did not fail to express its enthusiasm. According to Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of the company’s commercial civilian space, they are honored to collaborate with NASA to deliver the Orion capsules for the Artemis missions. According to her, this order includes ships, mission planning, and technical support.
Artemis’ long-term goal is to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon and in lunar orbit by the end of the decade. Later, the lessons learned will be used to send astronauts to Mars.
Orion and the Artemis Missions
With the rocket Space Launch System (SLS) and the lunar space station Gateway, the Orion capsule is one of the centerpieces of the Artemis program. Its first mission, Artemis 1, will be unmanned and will take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida around the middle of November. During this mission, the Orion capsule will be launched around the Moon before returning to Earth.
In 2024, it will be the turn of the Artemis 2 mission to take off. This time, astronauts will be aboard the capsule, and the journey will be similar to that of Artemis 1. During Artemis 3, astronauts will have the opportunity to set foot on the Moon at the pole south.
As for the Artemis missions 6 to 8 which will use the newly ordered capsules, they will take place late 2020s or early 2030s.
Reduce the cost
Over the years, NASA and Lockheed Martin have found a way to cut the costs of the Orion capsule. For example, the capsules built for Artemis missions 3 to 5 are 50% cheaper than those developed during the design and development phase. As for the three capsules that have just been ordered, they are 30% cheaper.
According to Tonya Ladwig, vice president and program manager of Orion at Lockheed Martin, they have substantially reduced costs for Artemis missions 3 to 8 thanks to the extensive reuse of structures and systems, and the incorporation of advanced digital design and manufacturing processes.
Be that as it may, the continuation of the Artemis Program will depend on the results of the Artemis 1 mission which will take off in November.