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"NASA announced Thursday it has tapped Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop the Orion crew capsule, a prestigious assignment that marks America's next big push into interplanetary travel.

Lockheed's win, initially valued at $3.9 billion through 2013, was a blow to Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co., two aerospace giants that had joined forces to compete against Lockheed for the lucrative contract.

"We are honored by the trust that NASA has placed in the Lockheed Martin team for this historic and vital step forward in human space exploration," said Lockheed Chairman and CEO Bob Stevens.

The program, an opportunity for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to recast its mission and revive the glory days of space travel, is also widely seen as a boon to the aerospace industry at large as it develops the technology and materials needed to carry humans back to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars - a journey of at least 35 million miles."

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