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.
Image above: An Orion crew vehicle in lunar orbit . Image Credit: Lockheed Martin Corp.
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.