NASA and Boeing Contract Extended, Opening the Path for More Artemis Missions

Boeing is in charge of building the SLS rockets that will fly NASA astronauts to the Moon in 2024.

NASA and Boeing Contract Extended, Opening the Path for More Artemis Missions
SLS illustration NASA

NASA extended its contract with Boeing. It will ensure that the aerospace company will build rocket stages for its Space Launch System (SLS), part of the Artemis I and II missions. 

The new contract encompasses the production of the core stage of the rocket for the Artemis III mission as well— the one due to send the first American female and male astronaut to the Moon in 2024. 

RELATED: NASA PLACES FINAL PARTS ON ITS SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM DUE TO SEND A ROCKET TO THE MOON

What does the new contract entail?

This move will allow Boeing to place larger bulk orders, minimizing the cost of the operation. These orders will allow 'long lead materials' for the SLS core rockets to cost less, and arrive on time. 

As many as 10 more will be ordered and used in missions beyond Artemis III.

Additionally, the new contract ensures that Boeing can secure parts well ahead of time. This is important for especially those parts that are typically in short supply and need more time to be produced.

NASA and Boeing still have to add the final touches to the contract that covers the remaining balance of the core stages — up to 10 — and at least eight Exploration Upper Stages (EUS). 

NASA and Boeing Contract Extended, Opening the Path for More Artemis Missions
Illustration of SLS leaving Earth. Source: NASA

The EUS is a second-stage rocket that will use liquid oxygen and hydrogen as fuel. This rocket will be used to deliver payloads beyond low-Earth orbit.

The first of these is due to launch during the Artemis IV mission, with a final goal to be used to propel cargo into deep space exploration destinations. 

NASA's Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, was the one to share the news during his extensive tour of the U.S.

"These initial steps allow NASA to start building the core stage that will launch the next astronauts to set foot on the lunar surface and build the powerful exploration upper stage that will expand the possibilities for Artemis missions by sending hardware and cargo along with humans or even heavier cargo needed to explore the Moon or Mars," said Bridenstine.

Bridenstine has been checking in on manufacturing facilities, and supplier sites involved in both the Artemis mission and the commercial crew launch program.

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