Lockheed Martin is in the process of assembling the Orion spacecraft. The Orion which is intended for the first Space Launch System mission will complete by June. Speaking in an interview at the 34th Space Symposium, Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin’s Orion Project Manager, revealed that they are working on reducing the cost of the spacecraft.
A part of the strategy for reducing the cost of the Orion is to prepare it for reuse in future missions.
The Orion would combine with a European service model for the mission. The service model is set to arrive in the United States in July. The first Exploration Mission (EM1) scheduled for next year.
The company has also started building elements of EM2. The EM2 will launch in 2023. However, the pressure vessel and the heat shield are already in production. The company revealed that they are using the experience from the creation of the Orion for the EM1 to reduce the production cost of the EM2 Orion.
The company also revealed that the experience got from the production of the Exploration Flight Test (EFT) 1 has also been useful in lowering production cost EM 1 and hopefully EM 2.
Lockheed Martin is going to submit a proposal to NASA in a bid to produce future Orion spacecraft. The company is confident that they can reduce production cost up to 50% if they are contracted to build spacecrafts for future missions, beyond EM 3.
The company expects a 30% reduction in production costs by the end of the third Exploration Mission (EM 3). Orion Project Manager, Mike Hawes, revealed that they would use some of the internal components of EM 1 in EM 2. They also have plans of reusing the structure of EM 4 for EM 7 mission. He mentioned that this would be possible with the experience of building and flying for earlier missions.
Hawes also revealed that the strategy to reuse elements of spacecrafts would help to increase flight rates. The company wants to fly one mission every year in the future. He stated that even though this goal will impose a tight schedule, it would be possible if the current strategy works well.
In 2016, NASA released a Request for Information (RFI) in a bid to seek solutions on how to reduce the cost of its spacecraft and rocket productions. This development is after NASA realized the production costs of the SLS and Orion are too expensive.