Moon Rocket Contract

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NASA has awarded Lockheed Martin a multibillion-dollar contract to build a manned lunar spaceship. The project would bring around 12-hundred of its 23-hundred new jobs to the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Maryland-based Lockheed Martin usually builds unmanned rockets.

NASA plans the Orion crew exploration vehicle to replace the space shuttle fleet and to take astronauts to the moon and possibly Mars.

It would be a reusable spacecraft, unlike Apollo and other predecessors. NASA estimates the cost at 7.5 (b) billion dollars through 2019 for likely eight separate spaceships.

The last time NASA awarded a manned spaceship contract to Lockheed Martin was in 1996 for a spaceplane that was supposed to
replace the space shuttle. NASA spent 912 (m) million dollars and the ship was never built due to technical problems.

The first test flight of Orion could be as soon as September 2014 and astronauts could return to the moon by 2019 or 2020.