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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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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.

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