The last time NASA gave a manned spaceship contract to Lockheed Martin was in 1996, for a space plane that was supposed to replace the shuttle. NASA spent $912 million, but it was never built because of technical problems.
NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Director Scott Horowitz says the new spacecraft, named Orion, will build on the past.
"you can see a little bit about the heritage. We borrowed from the shuttle program, Saturn five and the Apollo program. And all that comes together to bring you the Aries one, the Aries five and now Orion."
Earlier this year the General Accounting Office urged NASA to postpone the awarding of contracts. But Horowitz says awarding the contract is the next step because it allows for NASA to move forward without incurring unnecessary costs.
NASA officials say they hope to launch the manned spaceship in September of 2014. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.