Lockheed Martin’s at it again, slowly but surely getting us closer to making Star Wars and Star Trek a living reality for us all. And this time, they’re making sure that women are getting up to the stars, too.

The Denver Post reported that last Monday, Lockheed Martin and NASA signed a contract to create and help pilot six new Orion missions, which will help guide a new generation off-planet. The contract will include the production of up to twelve new Orion spacecraft, which have been specifically designed to help carry people farther into space than we’ve previously been, through September 2030. All of these missions will be sent off-planet as a part of the Artemis program, whose goal is to help us prepare to send astronauts to Mars by first mastering the moon. So, you know, we’re making baby steps.

Over the next 4-5 years, NASA wants to send the first woman and the next man up to the Moon, and then do more exploring of our closest celestial body. An important element of this mission is that NASA wants to make sure that we’ll be able to do sustainable, long-term space exploration with the resources we have at hand and on the moon itself. This way, we’ll get to treat the Artemis program as a testing ground to see how people live and operate on extended interplanetary missions that aren’t quite as far away as Mars. So far, NASA has ordered three Orion ships to cover Artemis missions III-V, which costs about $2.7 billion according to Lockheed’s contract. Throughout 2020, they’re planning to order three more spacecraft for the slightly discounted price of $1.9 billion. In order for the Orion ships to make more sustainable trips to the moon and back, they’ll be docking at the Gateway, a smaller spaceship which will orbit the Moon, providing living quarters, a lab, and ports for astronauts and spacecraft alike—It’ll basically be like a space outpost. From there, astronauts will be able to make accessible missions to the moon in what NASA calls “a new human landing system,” before returning to the outpost.

Officially, Lockheed Martin and NASA just finished working on Orion’s crew and service module, which will be used for the first Artemis mission, which will be a non-manned flight. The second mission, which will be the first to be actually carrying people, is already under development at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

In conclusion, despite the fact that Colorado’s a land-locked state, I feel deeply enthusiastic about the amount of star-sailing we’re helping to accomplish. With progress like this, maybe my third or fourth reincarnation will get to sign up for the Federation.

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