Lockheed wins $4B NASA deal for "Apollo on steroids," Orion

NASA today announced that Lockheed Martin will design and build the agency's next-gen human space exploration craft, Orion. The initial contract value was reported to be approximately $4 billion.

Link to press release, here's a wire service report via NYT, and here's more at the NASA website.

Image: (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press) "NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Doug Cooke, left, and Orion project manager Skip Hatfield today with a scale model of the Orion spacecraft."

Earthlings will have much cause for cheer if whatever Lockheed comes up with is half as funky as an earlier starship Orion from 40 years ago.

This one was celebrated with joyous frugging in the pre-Star-Trek "space opera" Raumpatrouille ("Space Patrol," 1965-1966). Previous BB posts mit dem kitschy videos: one, two.

Here's what the Orion looked like in that TV series:

Reader comment: Jay M. in Minneapolis says,

It's interesting that NASA has resurrected the "Orion" moniker for their latest moonshot. Before Apollo (and even before NASA was NASA) the US floated the idea of spaceships powered by atomic explosions. The idea was not only plausible, but on the drawing boards! It turned out to be not-so-popular, esp. in light of their incredible destructive power. Physicist Freeman Dyson was one of the scientists who worked on this project. His son George Dyson detailed the early exploits of the original Orion project in his book "Project Orion." Another good clearinghouse for Orion info: orion.ttsw.com