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US firm Lockheed Martin opens new spacecraft manufacturing facility

Jul '21
Pic: Lockheed Martin
Pic: Lockheed Martin
American spacecraft company Lockheed Martin has opened its Spacecraft Test, Assembly and Resource (STAR) Center in Titusville, Florida, US. It features business and digital transformation innovations that will expand manufacturing, assembly and testing capacity for NASA's Orion spacecraft programme and ultimately, future space exploration.

Lockheed Martin currently assembles the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I and II Moon missions at the nearby Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C) building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The addition of the STAR Center provides space for the new production phase of Orion, allowing future Orion spacecraft – starting with the Artemis III mission – to be built faster, the company said in a press release.

"The STAR Center is a spacecraft factory of the future and is the centrepiece of our commitment to build sustainable and affordable capabilities for NASA to send astronauts to explore the Moon and eventually Mars," said Lisa Callahan, commercial civil space vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin Space. "We are using advanced manufacturing capabilities and digital-first technologies to speed production and improve quality to get Orion from factory to space faster than ever before."

Lockheed Martin acquired the building that formerly housed the Astronaut Training Experience attraction and spent 18 months and nearly $20 million renovating and modernising the 55,000 square-foot space into a digitally transformed factory of the future.

The STAR Center is integrated into Lockheed Martin's Intelligent Factory Framework (IFF), an edge computing platform that secures, scales and standardises device connectivity through various IT platforms. This digital-first approach streamlines production and maximises agility by connecting devices virtually. More than 30 machines at the STAR Center will be connected to this IFF, as well as machines at NASA's O&C.

The centre also employs remote access, monitoring and alerting technologies for equipment, plus smart tools such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

Under Lockheed Martin's production contract with NASA, the agency has committed to order Orion vehicles for six missions, with the potential to add another six through 2030.

Elements of the spacecraft that take large amounts of floor space and that are built and tested outside the normal spacecraft assembly flow will be moved to the STAR Center. This gives production teams more room at the O&C facility to assemble and test more Orion spacecraft simultaneously and quicker.

Production activities include assembly and test of Orion aeroshell heat shield and backshell panels, including thermal protection system installation; crew module and crew module adapter wire harness fabrication and testing; propulsion and environmental control and life support systems assembly and testing; and electrical ground support equipment production.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (KD)

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