NASA is almost finished working on the Orion spacecraft to be used for the first Artemis mission, which will lead to a series of flights aimed at reviving manned space exploration.
The space agency said Friday that it is now working on Artemis II's assigned Orion and has also concluded welding activities for Artemis III's pressure vessel, with the support of prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
“NASA is shifting its focus from the development phase to the production phase for the Orion spacecraft to enable a long-term presence on and around the Moon,” said Cathy Koerner, program manager for Orion.
The spacecraft and its components have undergone testing over the past years, including 2014 when Orion flew in high-Earth orbit for the first time. Milestones achieved under Orion's design, development, test and evaluation phase allowed NASA to enter production.
NASA signed the Orion Production and Operations Contract with Lockheed to order up to 12 Orion spacecraft. In addition to existing orders, the agency plans to order three more Orion units in fiscal year 2022 for the sixth, seventh and eighth Artemis missions.