NASA prepares Orion capsules for future Artemis missions

(ORDO NEWS) — The Orion spacecraft could launch its first flight to the moon as part of the Artemis I mission in less than a month.

Kennedy Space Center teams are already preparing new capsules to be used for human spaceflight. The first of them can be launched in 18 months.

Lockheed Martin, which builds the capsules for the first five Artemis I flights, won a new NASA contract this month to build three more spacecraft.

“This order includes spacecraft, mission planning and support,” said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of commercial civil space at Lockheed Martin.

“We are on the eve of a historic launch, ushering in the era of Artemis. This contract shows that NASA has long-term plans for living and working on the Moon, and is also focused on getting people to Mars.”

The next attempt to launch Artemis I is scheduled for November 14th. The SLS launch vehicle and Orion capsule will launch from Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39-B.

This mission is designed to prove the safety of the capsule for the May 2024 crewed Artemis II flight.

NASA wants to launch one Artemis mission per year, and send humans to Mars by 2040.

“Our team is ready for the first Orion flight on the SLS rocket and is working in parallel to support future Artemis missions to the Moon,” said NASA Orion Program Manager Howard Hu.

“We have made significant progress in building several Orion spacecraft at various stages of production and assembly for Artemis II – IV.

The Artemis program was born from the remnants of the canceled Constellation program of the 2000s.

Artemis, announced in 2012, was supposed to launch for the first time by 2016, but NASA has faced numerous delays and huge costs.

Costs were originally expected to be around $500 million per flight, but costs are now expected to exceed $4.1 billion per flight over the first four missions.

On October 20, it was announced that the cost of the Artemis VI-VIII missions was estimated at $1.99 billion. Much of this savings comes from the planned reuse of components.

Kelly DeFazio, Lockheed Martin’s director of manufacturing for the Orion, said that up to 5,000 parts could be reused to build the capsule by the time the Artemis V takes flight.

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