Lockheed Martin has started the final assembly of NASA’s Orion spaceship, after completing the construction on the spacecraft’s capsule structure.

The structure, which is designed to carry astronauts to the Moon as part of NASA’s Orion Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2), has already reached the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, US, for final assembly.

Welded together by a team from Lockheed Martin over a period of seven months at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, the structure will serve as a pressure vessel for the EM-2 spacecraft.

The vessel features seven large, machined aluminium alloy pieces that form a lightweight, air-tight capsule.

“We’re all taking extra care with this build and assembly, knowing that this spaceship is going to take astronauts back to the Moon for the first time in four decades.”

It is specifically designed to safely transport crew members through harsh and demanding environments in deep space.

Lockheed Martin Michoud Orion Production senior manager Matt Wallo said: “We’re all taking extra care with this build and assembly, knowing that this spaceship is going to take astronauts back to the Moon for the first time in four decades.

“It’s amazing to think that, one day soon, the crew will watch the sun rise over the lunar horizon through the windows of this pressure vessel.”

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Lockheed Martin is also completing the final assembly of the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) crew module.

The EM-1 mission will see the launch of an unmanned Orion spacecraft onboard NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to begin a three-week journey beyond the Moon and then back to Earth.

Lockheed Martin is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration, in addition to the sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.