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Lockheed Martin wins $4 billion USD contract

Last week it was announced that the name Orion had been selected for NASA's next generation crew exploration vehicle (CEV). Yesterday it was announced that Lockheed Martin would be responsible for building the vehicle that will be pivotal in once again landing Americans back on the moon. The Orion CEV contract is worth an estimated $4 billion USD.

The Orion CEV will not only be responsible for transporting astronauts to the moon, but in earlier missions it will serve as a Space Shuttle successor transporting up to six crew members to and from the International Space Station. Only a crew of four is possible for lunar missions.

“We are humbled and excited as we continue our legacy of five decades of partnership with NASA in every aspect of human and robotic space exploration. Work already is underway and we are fully focused on the vital tasks that lie ahead to meet NASA’s requirements for the program. We have a world-class team of highly dedicated, highly experienced women and men who are passionate about the success of NASA’s missions,” Joanne Maguire, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.

The Orion CEV is designed to be not only much safer than previous manned space vehicles, but it will also be more efficient, more reliable and more affordable as well. NASA hopes to have the new crew vehicle operational by 2014 with manned missions to the moon taking place before 2020.

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Lockheed is on a roll...
By Engine of End on 9/1/2006 12:42:46 PM , Rating: 2
First the F-22, then the F-35, and now this. Way to go Lockheed!

RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By Schadenfroh on 9/1/06, Rating: -1
RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By Master Kenobi on 9/1/2006 12:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
Space is THE place. Why build an F-22, when you can further development of space, payouts will likely not be seen in our lifetimes, maybe our children's. In the long run, we need to get moving with space travel, and asteroid mining, no sense being stuck on this spec of dust when there is a whole huge galaxy out there to explore.

RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By Tsuwamono on 9/1/06, Rating: -1
RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By bob661 on 9/1/06, Rating: 0
RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By rushfan2006 on 9/1/2006 2:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
Don't apologize for your aren't right anyway so it doesn't really matter.


RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By goz314 on 9/1/2006 3:08:39 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh, I can see you are someone who belongs to category A. Good luck with that. :)

RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By Souka on 9/1/2006 3:08:11 PM , Rating: 2
Good think these rockets are envriomentally friendly! :P

RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By goz314 on 9/1/2006 2:27:51 PM , Rating: 3
And it's yet another feather in the cap of the military industrial complex. Way to go NASA. Keep re-inforcing the system that screws the taxpayers.

Now, I'm not specifically picking on NASA with that comment. As an agency, it's budgets are paltry in comparison to that of the defense budget as a whole. My criticism is aimed more at our government continuing to support a select hand full of contractors and an industry as a whole that is extraordinarily wasteful. Sure, the federal government is inneficient by itself, but it's doubly so and somewhat vicariously through every single defense contractor out there.

By the way, the current cost of an F-22 when factoring in the R&D as well as the procurement cost is $339 million. The Pentagon has currently ordered 183 of them making the total program cost to taxpayers about $62 billion dollars. It's also standard practice for all defense contractors to low ball their estimates for projects to Congress, and then cry poor mouth when "unforseen" cost overruns pop up. -kind of makes $4 billion look like small change in comparison, huh?

As far as I'm concerned, Lockheed Martin can be lumped into the same leauge as Exxon Mobil. Both companies reap ungodly profits at the expense of every single American citizen. And we, as a populace, blindly accept the crap they feed us because either a.) we don't care, or b.) we do care, but we have very little say in the matter anyway due to forces beyond our control and a political system that has failed it's people.

OK, sorry for the rant.

RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By Martin Blank on 9/1/2006 10:34:25 PM , Rating: 3
Exxon-Mobil made $10 billion in profits...

...after $90 billion in costs. That's right -- only a 10% profit margin. And income taxes? $8 billion there.

Defense contractors can be looked at a little differently, because they do some shady things. Oil companies take in their profits because they're in a fickle industry that can reward them -- ten years ago, some of them were struggling to stay afloat. Don't want to reward them? Don't use oil.

RE: Lockheed is on a roll...
By Mclendo06 on 9/2/2006 3:00:16 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I was almost certain that they would get this contract based on the fact that they lost the SEAT (Science, Engineering, Analysis, and Testing) contract with NASA a couple of years ago to Jacobs Sverdrup. Jacobs had a crack contract proposal team that was able to take this contract away from the arguably more capable Lockheed. Not to say that Lockheed isn't the better of the two competing proposals for CEV (Northrop Grumman/Boeing being the other), but they sort of needed this contract to maintain their standing in manned space exploration as their current contract load is limited to a number of smaller contracts.

Cool name...
By jskirwin on 9/1/06, Rating: 0
RE: Cool name...
By hellokeith on 9/1/06, Rating: 0
RE: Cool name...
By vanka on 9/1/2006 4:37:20 PM , Rating: 2
It's a shame the shuttles are being retired. What a fabulous piece of technology they are...

I would have to disagree. While it is true that the shuttles were a fabulous peice of technology, that was back in the 70s when they were first designed. I would think that in the past 30 years we have learned quite a bit more about space craft design and engineering; while the shuttles seem to be stuck in some weird time warp. I'm sure the shuttles were updated along the way with newer tech, a major overhaul is long overdue. I mean try showing up to even a NASCAR race with 70s era tech, you'll lose before you start. Lets not nostalgia get in the way of progress.

RE: Cool name...
By Some1ne on 9/1/2006 5:49:26 PM , Rating: 2
How is a capsule somehow a step forward or "major overhaul" in spacecraft design? It's not...we've used capsules before, and their return has nothing to do with them being superior to the shuttle design in any way. They are simply a reflection of our own technical limitations, and the fact that we still don't have a way of landing a reusable craft on the moon and bringing it back. That, and nothing more.

The shuttle may be 70's era tech, but capsules are 50's era tech.

RE: Cool name...
By arghack on 9/2/2006 7:24:47 AM , Rating: 2
"we've used capsules before, and their return has nothing to do with them being superior to the shuttle design in any way"


Alright, let's start with the problem of that pesky insulating foam that has a tendency to do nasty things to our shuttle. We've spent millions of dollars trying to fix it and it's still a problem. Think about this for a moment: going back to the design of a capsule placed ABOVE the boosters and fuel tank, this completely ELIMINATES the problem. That is a large part of the reason for going back to this design. If the capsule is the highest point, nothing is going to fall on it from higher up. This is just one reason that the capsule design is, in fact, superior. The new design will be simpler, more reliable, and cheaper (but yes, less sexy). I'm all for new technology, but sometimes the old ways really were best.

But I do seem to recall that NASA held previous competitions and chose new shuttle designs, including a cool wedge-shaped version. I guess that was just for show in the end, huh?

RE: Cool name...
By ilmdba on 9/2/2006 4:51:26 PM , Rating: 2
this is all about returning to the moon, and supposedly (though i doubt it), going to mars. you can't do that with a space shuttle, so a new vehicle is needed.

the old capsule/lunar lander method worked great for getting to the moon, so they're going back to that.

and there are much better, cheaper and safer ways to tool around in low-earth orbit like the shuttle has been doing, so we might as well get on with it and scrap them.

the reusability aspect of the shuttle turned out to be a wash. the things cost far more to refit every time they go up than it costs to just make a simple expendable rocket.

and we very rarely used them to haul stuff back from orbit in the cargo bay. there are cheaper/easier ways to bring stuff down from orbit anyway.

so even though the shuttle was kinda cool, and we got some good use out of them back in the day - they're not useful or cost-effective for the upcoming tasks NASA has.

RE: Cool name...
By Samus on 9/3/2006 5:50:00 PM , Rating: 2
the shuttle's maintenance costs exceed its value in 'reusability.'

the goal of orion is to make the capsuls VERY cheap. although they are not reusable, they are recyclable, and the cost will be cheaper than the maintenance of the shuttle's.

the shuttle was a good idea, but these days, everything is disposable. its safer and cheaper to just replace things than reuse them.

RE: Cool name...
By splines on 9/3/2006 10:52:44 PM , Rating: 2
For a lunar lander, you don't need an aerodynamically designed swept-wing craft - you need something that can land vertically, is light and cheap. And sure, if you're going to spend billions on a new capsule launch system, you might as well use it for the ISS as well. It'd be a great way to work out any kinks in a near-earth environment.

I hold the hope that this era of lunar exploration will be more about the science and the prospect of continued habitation than political gain, but I think I'll be disappointed.

RE: Cool name...
By techmech on 9/2/2006 2:23:33 PM , Rating: 2
Lockheed did attempt a new shuttle design; a reusable one that would not require external tanks. I'm not sure what happened to it but I know someone that worked on the carbon-fiber seals (in 1997) for the tanks that would have made up the majority of the internal structure.

Also see the X-33 link. It was a 50% scale functional test vehicle. Maybe it didn't work...

Space funding should be voluntary
By kaborka on 9/1/2006 1:13:35 PM , Rating: 2
As enthusiastic as I am about space exploration, I think it's wrong to force taxpayers to fund NASA (and I'm a former NASA researcher). Government should be strictly limited to law enforcement and defense. It is entirely feasible to accomplish everything NASA does using private money, be it the Planetary Society or commercial collaborations. There is far too much pork, graft, and waste in govt. spending to justify such projects. Let the people vote for them with their contributions.

RE: Space funding should be voluntary
By mezman on 9/1/2006 1:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
Says the libretarian.

Space funding is something that only governments are capable of due to the extreme cost of it all. If it were up to you, then we would have no space program at all and as a consiquence all the cool and lifestyle changing stuff that has been derived from it.

By Xavian on 9/2/2006 12:55:28 AM , Rating: 2
If thats so, whats happening to the current evolution of the SpaceShipOne spacecraft? It seems to me technology is advancing to such a point where individual companies can start profiting off of space travel.

Sure right now it doesn't pull away from the gravity of earth, but in time it could and as we all know about capitalism, once profit is found in a new market, the market explodes with new companies or old ones investing in it, causing rapid advancement.

I say keep an eye on Burt Rutan and the company Virgin in the near future as they could be pioneers for privately-funded space travel.

RE: Space funding should be voluntary
By Pirks on 9/1/2006 1:45:19 PM , Rating: 2
Nobody was specifically preventing large US corporations to do their own space research programs. They are just not interested - too much risk and chances of extracting any profit from say "asteroid mining" are close to zero. Space expl?ration remains a fundamental science so far, like mathematics/topology/chaos theory/etc - noone is able to extract solid profit from some obscure Perelman's proof of some topological theorem - same for this mining stuff. This is why so called private space exploration has became possible only after GOVERNMENT sent Rutan some money in a form of a prize. No government program - no Rutans, space tourists etc. Why so? Too much risk, cost is too high - space exploration is very distant topic on any large company exec's mind. They can extract MUCH more profit doing Earth based operations, hence at this point of time any talk about "private" space exploration is pure BS. I won't call an inflatable space hotel for rich whackos exactly a space _exploration_, you know. It's just like Windows - application of ideas discovered aeons ago by others - you won't call Windows an "OS exploration" project, will ya :)))))

By s12033722 on 9/5/2006 1:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
Just FYI, the $10 million Ansari X-Prize was not a goverment prize. It was fully private. In addition, Scaled Composites, the company developing SpaceShipOne, did so at a larger cost than the amount of the X-Prize. It is estimated that the cost was about $25 million, most of the funding for which came from Paul Allen.

I too would like to see private space exploration, but not for simple tourism. I would like to see null-g manufacturing, etc. form the financial basis for space exploration.

By rudy on 9/3/2006 12:54:36 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree because NASA is sort of an experimental organization and its fruits will eventually be used by the military. It is just fine for the government to do this and I also dont see non profit organizations popping up anywhere in the world that can do major space exploration you have many players but the only ones that can really fund it are all government run.

Conflict of interest?
By vailr on 9/1/06, Rating: 0
RE: Conflict of interest?
By Knish on 9/2/2006 4:44:41 PM , Rating: 1
Americans will look back at the bush years and be very appalled one day.

RE: Conflict of interest?
By Jedi2155 on 9/3/2006 8:17:08 AM , Rating: 1
Or worse....pleased......

RE: Conflict of interest?
By artbronze on 9/3/2006 11:55:43 PM , Rating: 2
People may look back at the Bush administration in many ways. In fact they may look back historically at the Bush administration in ways that people do not expect. The United States has historically backed the state of Isreal without any question. I am not 100 percent positive about Bushes reasons for going into Iraq but what can be undeniably said is that Americans have fought and died for the freedom of the Iraqi people. We freed them from a dictator who was arguably as bad as Adolf Hitler. All I'm trying to say here is that we have fought for the freedom of the English the French the Germans and also the Jewish state in the past. No one can say we are prejudiced against Arabs or Islam as we have fought bled and died for Arabs in Iraq and Afganistan. What we are trying to achieve with Iraq right now is at the very core of our own freedom, the seperation of religeon from the state and the freedom from religeous persecution. At stake in Iraq is the idea that a people can democratically choose a destination instead of a few religeous zeolots that force their will through violence on the rest of a people. I am sure the women of Afganistan and Iraq may someday thank us for the ability to walk around without burkas and be treated as second rate citizens. What we are trying for in these countrys is a very noble experiment in freedom and tolerance, the only question that remains is if the people there can grasp the significance of what is being offered them and take advantage of this priceless opertunity for cultural and intelligent advancement.

RE: Conflict of interest?
By captchaos2 on 9/4/2006 1:33:11 AM , Rating: 2
Why do people keep forgetting that the more allied countries we get in the Middle-East, the less problems we'll have with psychotic terrorists? Save the whales, but forget the women and children in dictatorships.

RE: Conflict of interest?
By mino on 9/7/2006 10:21:50 AM , Rating: 1
I guess teh reason is that Iraqi terrorists did not exist before US came there ?

RE: Conflict of interest?
By ThorN15 on 9/5/2006 7:23:06 AM , Rating: 2
Lockheed Martin - pretty sure a big way of saving money. (being sarcastic)

President Rosewell said after the second WWII that nevera a defense contracter firm should have their feet in the Pentagon. What is happening today? A little Iraq invasion (eventhough clearly no weapons of mass destruction found), large amount of bombs delievered to Israel etc

In the meanwhile the Chinese are building their own little space program at great pace. Surely, they dont care too much about safety... plenty of people and human rights. Mmmh, what human rights? Maybe, with this whole Globalisation thing we should give the contrat to the Chinese. It is cheaper and we don't have to worry about safety etc. LOL

RE: Conflict of interest?
By Master Kenobi on 9/6/2006 9:33:33 AM , Rating: 2
Different Ideologies. Over here if a space shuttle explodes, the program gets frozen in ice as every politician demands answers and safety precautions.

In China, if it blows up, so what, find out why, but while preping another launch, no need to halt the program just because of one accident, plenty of people to replace the handfull that got vaporized. Thats the Chinese mentality.

As you can see, its a different way of doing things, and different priorities. While we might place the highest regard on safety, China's successful space program is their highest priority, and I can't help but think they have it right.

By Nexworks on 9/1/2006 12:13:10 PM , Rating: 2
Im curious how the CEV is going to return to earth. Back to the days of water splashdowns?

RE: Landing?
By Engine of End on 9/1/2006 12:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
It's more than likely. There aren't a lot of places to land, besides deserts or salt flats. It's also possible that the CEV will be recyclable, since heat shield technology has improved since the days of using steel honeycombs. A water landing wouldn't be as damaging to the vehicle.

RE: Landing?
By Engine of End on 9/1/2006 1:26:02 PM , Rating: 2
I guess I was wrong. According to Wikipedia, the CEV will land on land.

RE: Landing?
By Souka on 9/1/2006 3:06:09 PM , Rating: 2
that landing would be sweet during half-time at the superbowl!

RE: Landing?
By apennachio on 9/2/2006 7:28:39 AM , Rating: 1
Oh! Where should I send my resume? I will bet you my resume is bigger than yours.

By Dfere on 9/1/2006 12:07:51 PM , Rating: 2
Just to build the damn thing? We are not talking total project costs here (Cost of the progam in total.) They have to have a launch/delivery rocket already designed, and I cannot think that we have to spend a huge amount of money building from a proven design we already built in the 1960's and 70's.


By Martin Blank on 9/1/2006 10:27:04 PM , Rating: 2
From the Wikipedia article on the Apollo Project:

"The cost of the entire program is estimated at $135 billion (2006) Dollars ($25.4 billion in 1969 Dollars). The Apollo spacecraft cost $28 billion (2006) dollars to develop: $17 billion for the command and service modules, and $11 billion for the Lunar Module. The Saturn I, IB and V launch vehicle development cost about $46 billion."

Developing the Orion project for $4 billion is a relative steal.

By doctor sam adams on 9/4/2006 10:53:34 PM , Rating: 2
Developing the Orion project for $4 billion is a relative steal.

Steal indeed. Do you think if the program gets canceled, diminished, or simply starved to death, Lockheed Martin will refund any of these "development funds"? Sounds like we'll be hearing many more tales of $1,000 screwdrivers.

By JeffDM on 9/1/2006 10:47:23 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder what the trips themselves might cost.

The last time around, each manned moon shot costed about one billion each in the money of the day. Scale that up by thirty years of inflation and that's about $4B per trip.

By rushfan2006 on 9/1/2006 12:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
I just love how the average joe poster comments critiquing complex stuff like space travel -- something that lord knows how many MIT types, PhD's, engineers with probably more years experience than most of the folks who post this forum have even been alive, have no doubt poured over, planned out, budgeted, did R&D, etc. etc.

But yeah joe poster figures everything out, breaks it all down in 10 minutes...pure genius! GENIUS I SAY!!!

;) LOL

Love this stuff..

By Master Kenobi on 9/1/2006 12:48:47 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't the commercial industry where safeguards and backup plans are rudimentry at best. The amount of testing, variance in testing, and safeguards and backup plans that need to be devised and designed for number in the hundreds. That is why it costs so much, you need to build SAFELY, not CHEAPLY. Not to mention building a spaceship isn't a simple or quick task, the technology used back in the 60's and 70's is outdated by far. Were basically using the generic design idea, and everything else from scratch.

By Some1ne on 9/1/2006 6:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
you need to build SAFELY, not CHEAPLY.

Sorry, no. Exploration is, and has always been, a dangerous business. People who decide to be explorers know this. You need to make reasonable allowances for safety, but above all else you need to just build what works, and build it QUICKLY (and preferably also cheaply).

Seriously, the safety-nazis have gotten way out of hand as of late...the fact that the shuttle fleet stayed grounded as long as it did after Columbia is just obscene. It's not the job of the engineers to ensure that something like that can never happen again (as they tried...for like 2 years), it's their job to ensure that under resonable conditions, the space vehicle works reasonably well, and it's also their job to tell the explorers "in light of this, we've determined that there's a 0.75% chance that the incident will repeat itself", and then it's the job of the explorers to dedice if that constitutes an acceptable risk or not.

By stmok on 9/1/2006 7:42:40 PM , Rating: 2
I just love how the average joe poster comments critiquing complex stuff like space travel -- something that lord knows how many MIT types, PhD's, engineers with probably more years experience than most of the folks who post this forum have even been alive, have no doubt poured over, planned out, budgeted, did R&D, etc. etc.

But yeah joe poster figures everything out, breaks it all down in 10 minutes...pure genius! GENIUS I SAY!!!

What do you expect? The average Joe has yet to spend 4 to 5 yrs of their life studying Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering Degree...Its easier to form an uninformed opinion than it is to do an engineering degree.

Retro Space Missions!!!!
By ToeCutter on 9/1/2006 7:52:15 PM , Rating: 3
WTF? Is the new moon mission intended to inspire so much nostalgia like the "new" Mustang, Mini and VW Bug?

We're still using a command module and lander, complete with space capsule, splashdown, "grab it with a chopper" landing?!

Hell, I'll pop in "the Right Stuff" if I wanna see fifties tech. Where are all the sleek Mach 10 transports we were supposed to have 10 years ago? And WTF is my flying car?!

I understand Dubya is one for nostalgia, but give me a freaking break!

Space Shuttle
By casket on 9/7/2006 9:02:56 AM , Rating: 2
The concept of the space shuttle was to have a vehicle that could fly into space like an airplane and be reused like an airplane. The thinking was if you build it once and re-use it 50 times, than it is potentially 50x cheaper. Also, if it succeeded once, then it will succeed again, and be safer.

Although the space shuttle program has been an astounding success, the initial concept behind why to build it has been a complete failure.

1. With the booster rockets falling off... it is not really 100% reusable.
2. Re-entry, space junk, and foam problems have led to a situation, where it is 3x more expensive to fix these problems than to build a new craft.
3. The concept of "re-using" does not mix will with "cutting-edge technology". In some ways, innovation is stifled.
4. Although, lots of technology has been successfully developed to monitor the safety aspects of the shuttle... A couple of blown up shuttles means it is no safer than the old Apollo program.

In conclusion, the initial goals for developing a space shuttle: safer, cheaper, re-usable(higher frequency of flights) have never been met.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
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