Lock­heed plans $350M satel­lite fac­tory

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM -

Aero­space man­u­fac­turer Lock­heed Martin on Wed­nes­day an­nounced plans to to spend $350 mil­lion on a satel­lite pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity at the com­pany’s Water­ton Canyon cam­pus near Den­ver.

Space “is a big place, but we plan to be a leader in it,” said Rick Am­brose, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for Lock­heed Martin’s space sys­tems business.

Lock­heed’s business is be­ing chal­lenged by new­com­ers that have pledged to pop­u­late the low­est rung of Earth’s or­bit with “mi­crosatel­lites,” which are of­ten just a few me­ters wide.

The global telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­vest­ment firm Soft­Bank is spend­ing $1.7 bil­lion to com­bine Lux­em­bourg­based In­tel­sat with Richard Bran­son-backed OneWeb, cre­at­ing a satel­lite be­he­moth that seems sin­gu­larly fo­cused on smaller, cheaper mod­els. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is work­ing to launch 4,425 small satel­lites into low Earth or­bit by 2024.

Plans for the new fa­cil­ity call for man­u­fac­tur­ing, as­sem­bling and test­ing cen­ters that are large enough to keep mul­ti­ple pro­duc­tion lines run­ning at the same time, al­low­ing the fa­cil­ity to pro­duce large satel­lites as it is churn­ing out smaller ones.

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