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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 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.

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