NASA issued a justification notice for the contract Thursday, saying only Lockheed could fulfill the space agency’s requirements for the test flight.
NASA said the test would evaluate vehicle parts that pose high risks to both mission success and the crew. Those parts include the parachutes, heat shield and flight software.
Lockheed designed the Orion to transport astronauts to the moon and possibly Mars as part of an $8 billion contract. NASA hopes to have a test flight early in 2014, a NASA spokesman told NextGov.