Lockheed Martin turns toward space business

A rendering of the Starlab satellite, a cylindrical device with four radially extended wingsStarlab (image provided by Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin, a major employer in Cobb County, has turned a great deal of its attention toward matters related to the space business.

On November 30 the company announced that Robert Lightfoot will be the new executive vice president of the company’s Space business area effective Jan. 1, 2022.

And on December 2, the company announced that it is one of three partners awarded a $160 million contract by NASA to design its Starlab commercial space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Development program.

About the appointment of Lightfoot as a VP of the company’s space business area, Lockheed Martin Chief Operating Officer Frank St. John said, “Robert is a mission-oriented leader with the right combination of experience to take our Space business to its next heights. He is known for exceptional people leadership, and I look forward to what he will bring to not only Space but also the broader aerospace and defense industry.”

“I’m honored to lead Lockheed Martin Space and work with our customers to strengthen their missions of security, exploration and discovery through innovation and partnership,” said Lightfoot.

Nanoracks and Voyager Space are the two companies Lockheed Martin will work with on the Starlab project.

“While today marks a major milestone for Nanoracks and our Starlab team, the impact goes far beyond this award,” said Dr. Amela Wilson, CEO at Nanoracks. “To receive this support from NASA validates over a decade of Nanoracks’ hard work forging commercial access to space, bringing over 1300 commercial payloads from 30 nations to the ISS. This opportunity opens far-reaching possibilities for critical research and commercial industrial activity in LEO.  We are honored to be selected as one of three awardees to work with NASA, and we cannot wait to bring our existing global commercial customer base to Starlab.”

“Starlab is the confluence of Lockheed Martin’s rich space expertise and history, Nanoracks’ innovation, and Voyager’s financial savvy. This team is equipped to aid NASA on its mission to expand access to LEO and to enable a transformative commercial space economy,” said Lisa Callahan, Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin.

To learn more details about the Starlab project, follow this link to the press release from Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin and Cobb County

The Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta has been a major employer in Cobb County since 1951, when the Lockheed Corporation, a predecessor of Lockheed Martin, took over the former site of the WWII Bell Bomber plant.

In response to a request by the Courier for a previous article, the spokesperson for the Marietta operations of the company wrote:

The C-130 remains the largest program at the Marietta site. We are currently building the C-130J Super Hercules and I’ve attached our updated Fast Facts for insights on that program. We’ve produced every production model C-130 at the Marietta site, which means Hercs have been rolling out of Marietta for almost 66 years. It’s staple here in Cobb County! You can learn more about the C-130J in our brochure located here.

We also provide support (i.e., sustainment) for the C-5 Galaxy, which wrapped up a major modification providing 52 C-5s with new engines and avionics, in 2018. We celebrated the C-5’s 50th anniversary in 2018 and expect to see that aircraft in service – thanks to its upgrades and unique hauling capabilities – until 2045. See press release for more information. We also support the P-3 Orion through Marietta-based teams. Additionally, we manufacture F-35 center wings here in Marietta.