Lockheed Martin’s Orion deep-space crew capsule will lose its distinctive “Mickey Mouse ears” with NASA’s adoption of a European power system that lacks the U.S. company’s circular solar arrays. ESA

Lockheed Martin Expanding Human Spaceflight Role

By Frank Morring, Jr.
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

Frank Morring, Jr.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, a longtime powerhouse in robotic spacecraft, is staking a larger position in human spaceflight as a way to stay busy while its big civil-space customers adjust to the new era of budget and political uncertainty.

The Littleton, Colo.-based unit will draw on its work with NASA’s planned Orion crew capsule to help neighboring Sierra Nevada Corp. human-rate its Dream Chaser entry in NASA’s commercial crew sweepstakes. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin crews at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the company built all of the aluminum-alloy tanks for the space shuttle program, will use expertise in composites gained in part from fighter aircraft work, to build the lightweight lifting body structure for the reusable commercial vehicle.

And the experience gained from decades of integrating European instruments and other hardware into scientific satellites and space probes will help company engineers and managers as they work to fit a European service module to the back of the Orion capsule. The efforts are designed to keep facilities the company has developed over decades working as steadily as possible while the spacecraft industry transitions into 21st century conditions.

“We’re looking across human spaceflight for what other things can we do to bring our processes, people and experience in to level-load a facility better so that our costs are lower, so that we’re more effective and efficient in what we do,” says Jim Crocker, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager for civil space.

Read more: Lockheed Martin Expanding Human Spaceflight Role — Aviation Week & Space Technology.

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