Despite the recent order of more F-35s Lockheed Martin knows the days of fighter jets controlling the skies won’t last forever. The future of airborne war is increasingly trending toward unmanned aircraft. That means the venerated builder of the A-10, C-130, F-2, F-16, and Black Hawk helicopter, among others, is looking to make its mark in another field.
Recent reports say Lockheed Martin is investing heavily in research and development to produce the next generation of satellite technology. In a release, L-M said it is building a $350 million facility near Denver, Colorado. This new “factory of the future” is said to be about 266,000 square-feet of futuristic planning and building.
This certainly isn’t Lockheed’s first foray into the satellite business. The company has long been a big mover in the space industry, but this new commitment places Lockheed as the trendsetter and industry leader in the space business. And, don’t expect them to wait until the facility is finished. In fact, L-M is already working on GPS III satellites for the USAF and a Mars lander for NASA.
But even with these current space age contracts, Lockheed calls the new facility a massive step forward in the business of putting American interests into space. The announcement is a bit of a salve for American manufacturing interests who questioned the company’s decision to move F-16 manufacturing to India. While the US has moved on, the Fighting Falcon is still big business elsewhere.
One of the biggest benefits of having the new facility, according to Lockheed, is convenience. While it takes up to 48 hours to get a finished satellite to a testing facility. When the facility is finished, it will take about an hour. In the release, L-M executive VP of Space Systems said:
“This is our factory of the future: agile, efficient, and packed with innovations… We’ll be able to build satellites that communicate with front-line troops, explore other planets, and support unique missions.”
In addition to the convenience of testing, the new facility will allow Lockheed to build multiple different types and sizes of satellite, storing them until needed.
While the company said it will be hiring about 1,500 contractors and workers to build the facility, it is already beginning to expand its staff in anticipation of the completed facility. More than 750 new engineers and support staff have been hired in the past three years. These new hires and expanded projects put Lockheed in a good position to continue to compete with SpaceX and Airbus for air and space supremacy.
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States.