Lockheed starts building spaceship for missions to moon, Mars

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America back to the moon: Apollo astronaut weighs in

Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt on President Trump vowing Americans will return to the moon.

U.S. aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) announced Thursday it had begun construction on a spaceship that could one day return humans to the moon.

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Called the Orion, the craft is designed for deep space exploration and taking humans further into the solar system than ever before, according to Lockheed. Beyond a mission to the moon, the Orion is ultimately expected to be used for human missions to Mars, as prioritized by the White House late last year.

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Lockheed called its new project “the most advanced spacecraft ever built.”

The first two pieces of the craft’s crew module, which will house astronauts, were welded together at a NASA facility in New Orleans on Thursday. Construction on this piece of the spaceship is designed to be completed by September, when it will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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President Donald Trump signed a directive in December, on the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission, asking NASA to refocus on its mission of space exploration, specifically sending humans to the moon and eventually Mars.

“This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond,” Trump said at the time.

The move was seen as a reversal of the previous administration’s policies after former President Barack Obama cancelled a program to return humans to the moon by 2020 after it came in over-budget.

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