NASA finalized a $3.2 billion contract with Boeing to manufacture the core and upper stages for future Space Launch System (SLS) rockets. The SLS rocket, which first launched in the Artemis I mission in November

, will support future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond.

NASA initially authorized funding for Artemis III core stage work in October 2019, but this finalizes the contract. NASA said it extends production activities and preparations for future work through July 2028. NASA may order up to 10 core stages and eight exploration upper stages total to support future deep space exploration missions.

The contract is called SLS Stages Production and Evolution Contract action, and Boeing will produce SLS core stages for Artemis III and IV, procure critical and long-lead material for the core stages for Artemis V and VI, and provide the exploration upper stages (EUS) for Artemis V and VI.

“NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is the only rocket capable of sending large cargos and soon, astronauts to the Moon,” said John Honeycutt, SLS program manager. “The SLS core stage is the backbone of NASA’s Moon rocket, producing more than 2 million pounds of thrust at launch, and the addition of the exploration upper stage will enable NASA to support missions to deep space through the 2030s.”

Separately, the Orion crew capsule that was on the Artemis I mission successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday after a 25-day mission through deep space.