Lockheed Martin has begun construction work at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana, on a spacecraft designed to transport astronauts to the moon as part of Exploration Mission-2.
The Orion crew capsule will launch aboard the Space Launch System rocket as part of EM-2 mission that is expected to establish the framework for the Deep Space Gateway and manned missions to Mars, the company said Thursday.
“We’re finishing assembly of the EM-1 Orion spacecraft in Florida, and simultaneously starting production on the first one that will carry crew,” said Mike Hawes, vice president and program manager for Orion at Lockheed.
Lockheed engineers and technicians will continue to build the pressure vessel crew capsule at Michoud in the spring and summer of 2018.
The pressure vessel will consist of seven aluminum alloy pieces, aft bulkhead, barrel and three cone panels and will be designed to withstand extreme conditions associated with deep space travel.
Lockheed expects to complete the crew module by September and will ship it to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin the assembly-and-testing phase.
The Orion crew capsule is part of the Mars Base Camp concept Lockheed unveiled in September 2017.