September 1, 2006 Yesterday NASA awarded the contract to design, develop, and build Orion, the primary next generation vehicle for human space exploration. Lockheed Martin got the approximately US$4 billion gig and now has the enviable task of creating the Orion - an advanced crew capsule design that will succeed the Space Shuttle in transporting human explorers to and from the International Space Station, the Moon, and eventually to Mars and beyond. Orion will be capable of transporting four crewmembers for lunar missions and later supporting crew transfers for Mars missions. Orion could also carry up to six crew members to and from the International Space Station. There is an excellent overview article on the NASA site here and an extensive image library here.