has completed assembly and testing of the Orion Artemis I spacecraft and has ‘transferred possession’ to NASA’s
Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team. Assembled at Kennedy Space Center, the EGS team will then perform final preparations on the spacecraft for its mission to the Moon later this year.
Orion is NASA’s new human-rated exploration-class spaceship that will take astronauts into deep space including the Moon and Mars. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for NASA and built the crew module, crew module adaptor and launch-abort system. The European Space Agency provides the European Service Module for Orion.
The Artemis I mission will be the first launch of the Orion spacecraft aboard NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. Over the course of three weeks, the uncrewed Orion capsule will fly out and orbit the Moon and return to Earth. This test mission will validate the spacecraft, rocket and ground systems for future crewed missions.
Mike Hawes, Orion vice president and programme manager for Lockheed Martin, said: “Orion is a unique and impressive spacecraft and the team did an outstanding job to get us to this day. The launch and flight of Artemis I will be an impressive sight, but more importantly it will confirm Orion is ready to safely carry humans to the Moon and back home.
“This tremendous advancement opens the door to a new era of deep space exploration that will ultimately benefit us back here on Earth.”
The launch later this year will be the beginning of many Artemis missions to the Moon. The next mission, Artemis II, will be the first with a crew onboard and will go out to orbit the Moon and return. That Orion crew module and service module adapter are well under assembly at Kennedy and will see its first power-on of its integrated computers this summer.
Meanwhile, Artemis III will see the first woman and the next man to walk on the Moon. Orion will carry them out to orbit the Moon where they will ultimately land on the surface using a lunar landing system.
That spacecraft is already under construction, with major structural elements of the crew module pressure vessel arriving at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility.
As part of an Orion production and operations contract, NASA ordered three Orion spacecraft from Lockheed Martin for Artemis missions III to V, with plans to order three additional Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions VI to VIII and options for up to 12 missions.