Aerospace giant breaks ground on 'factory of the future'

August 04, 2017 // By Rich Pell
Aerospace giant breaks ground on 'factory of the future'
Aerospace company Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD) has announced that it has begun construction on a new $350 million state-of-the-art facility "infused with innovation" - such as 3D printing and virtual reality - that will be used to produce next-generation satellites.

Slated for completion in 2020, the 266,000-square-foot Gateway Center will feature a 'paperless' digitally-enabled production environment incorporating rapidly-reconfigurable production lines and advanced test capabilities. It will include a high bay clean room capable of building a range of advanced satellites - from micro to macro - simultaneously.

In addition, it will have an expansive thermal vacuum chamber to simulate the harsh environment of space, an anechoic chamber for testing of sensors and communications systems, and an advanced test operations and analysis center. It will be certified to security standards required to support national security missions.

"This is our factory of the future: agile, efficient and packed with innovations," says Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems. "We'll be able to build satellites that communicate with front-line troops, explore other planets, and support unique missions."

"You could fit the Space Shuttle in the high bay with room to spare. That kind of size and versatility means we'll be able to maximize economies of scale, and with all of our test chambers under one roof, we can streamline and speed production."

"We're transforming every aspect of our operations to help our customers stay ahead of a rapidly-changing landscape. The Gateway Center, coupled with advancements in 3D printing, virtual reality design, and smart payloads, will deliver game-changing innovations while saving our customers time and money," says Ambrose.

Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin invested $1 million in an additive manufacturing laboratory in Colorado, to be built over the next four years. The company has also been using virtual and augmented reality to help rapidly prototype a deep space habitat for NASA.

The company expects to employ a total of 1,500 contractors during the three-year Gateway Center construction phase.

Lockheed Martin

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