By Karen Morfitt

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado engineers have cemented their role in NASA’s mission to return to the moon. Lockheed Martin was awarded an indefinite-delivery and indefinite-quantity contract for continued production of the Orion Spacecraft.

LOCKHEED MARTIN ORION

(credit: CBS)

Gary Napier, the Communications Manager for the global aerospace company, says it is an exciting day for those who have spent years developing Orion.

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“This is a spacecraft that’s going to be our nations spacecraft for many decades,” he said.

LOCKHEED MARTIN ORION

Gary Napier (credit: CBS)

According to Napier, initially NASA has ordered three Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions III-V for $2.7 billion. Then in 2022, the agency plans to order three more additional spacecraft for $1.9 billion.

“It’s a spacecraft like nothing else with amazing capabilities,” he said.

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LOCKHEED MARTIN ORION

(credit: Lockheed Martin)

With more than 700 engineers devoted solely to Orion, the companies Colorado facility is celebrating the news.

“The primary engineering and the development for the Orion spacecraft, NASA spacecraft that is going to take humans back to space is based out of Colorado,” Napier said.

In addition to celebrating Colorado’s role in the development, Napier says the long term contract is a show of commitment from NASA to the program and to continued space exploration.

LOCKHEED MARTIN ORION

(credit: Lockheed Martin)

“Their major goal right now is to have the first woman and the next man walk on the surface of the moon by 2024. So that’s a pretty near time frame we are working to make that happen and the Orion spacecraft is going to be the spacecraft that takes them to moon,” he said.

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The big test flight for Orion will be in 2020, followed by a third in 2022 and then the mission to land on the moon in 2024.

Karen Morfitt