NASA awarded a $7.5 billion dollar contract to build a manned spaceship to Lockheed Martin Corp. The Orion crew exploration vehicle is supposed to replace the Space Shuttle fleet. New Spaceship will be primarily used for the missions to the ISS. It is also supposed to take astronauts to the Moon and perhaps on to Mars.
NASA has selected Lockheed Martin Corp. as the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, America's spacecraft for a new generation of explorers. The Orion crew capsule will carry astronauts back to the Moon and later to Mars. The first flight with astronauts aboard is planned for no later than 2014. Orion's first flight to the moon is planned for no later than 2020. Orion improves on the best features of Project Apollo and the Space Shuttle Program, increasing the likelihood of success. Versatility will be Orion's trademark. It is being designed to fly to the moon, but could also be used to service the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit.
Source: NASA Constellation Program
Photo Credits: NASA/John Frassanito and Associates.
Link to flash animations, 3D models, and slideshows of NASA's new spaceship
Link to full resolution photos of NASA's new spaceship
Well, it's interesting. Lockheed Martin gets Apollo 2.0? NASA opted to benefit from a design but technology approach similar to that used for the development of the U.S. Apollo and Russian Soyuz. The space agency will be developing 1960's old technology of rockets for the next 15 years?