It's an exciting time for Australia in space: the establishment of a new Australian Space Agency, the growth of new businesses in the local space industry, and collaborations with worldwide agencies including NASA on their inspirational missions to the Moon and Mars that will create jobs and opportunities for Australians.
OPOC commits NASA to a decade-long contract that will span several presidencies. That may be all that matters to the space agency at the moment, especially with the deadline for a crewed Moon mission rapidly approaching. The first batch of Orion spacecraft will be used for Artemis missions III, IV, and V with a contract value of $2.7 billion. "Driving down cost and manufacturing them more efficiently and faster will be key to making the Artemis program a success", said Mike Hawes, Orion program manager for Lockheed Martin Space.
Lockheed Martin will be working under Nasa's Orion Production and Operations Contract (OPOC), an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contact for NASA to issue both cost-plus-incentive-fee and firm-fixed-price orders.
NASA is also hoping to re-use the Orion capsules at least once per spacecraft starting with Artemis II, the first crewed mission in the program, which is only set to do a Moon flyby and not actually touchdown.
"We can fully test out a spacecraft before it goes to space", Wheelock said.
"By signing this contract for an additional six more capsules, [NASA] is committed to supporting this mission through the 2030s", said space policy analyst Laura Forczyk "It's a long-term commitment". With NASA's accelerated return to the Moon, Johnson Space Center now is managing more major human spaceflight programs than ever before.
Notice how the Orion spacecraft ordered don't start supporting the Artemis missions until the third one?
CSIRO looks forward to continuing to work closely with NASA and the Australian Space Agency on the next giant leaps to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
"With the design and development phase of Orion largely behind us, this new contract will enable us to increase efficiencies, reuse the spacecraft, and bring down the cost of reliably transporting people between earth and the Gateway". Engineers at Kennedy Space Center in Florida have completed and attached the crew and service modules for Artemis I and are preparing the spacecraft for environmental testing.