Lockheed Martin’s Stennis Space Center operation plays a key role in satellite manufacturing busines

January 1, 2015

The Lockheed Martin Mississippi Space and Technology Center (MSTC) opened at Stennis Space Center in 2002 and today is a key player in the aerospace company's satellite business. Most of the 165 employees at the Stennis MSTC manufacture satellite propulsion systems for the U.S. military, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as foreign government and commercial customers. Lockheed employees in a separate Information Systems and Global Solutions (IS&GS) division provide metrology and technical services to various government and commercial customers throughout the country. Dave Hartley, director of the Propulsion Manufacturing Center at the Stennis MSTC, said the propulsion system is "the backbone of the satellite." It consists of small rocket engines and one large engine used to propel the satellite from low earth orbit to geosynchronous orbit. The propulsion system also performs "station keeping" maneuvers to help anchor the satellite in its proper location to perform its job.

Lockheed Martin employees install the rocket engines, fuel tanks, tubing and thermal protection systems into a satellite structure in a highly precise process that takes about six months, Hartley said. The satellites are then sent to Lockheed sites in Colorado and California for final assembly and test. The Stennis facility is the only one of its kind within Lockheed Martin. It was established in 2000 as a joint project of the state of Mississippi, Hancock County, NASA and the company. "We opened the doors in August of 2002 and we've been building Satellite Propulsion and Thermal Protection Systems since then," Hartley said. The 220,000-square-foot building includes modern training facilities and 52,000-squarefeet of sophisticated cleanrooms for the handling of satellite components and protective insulation. Since opening, the center has completed 54 propulsion systems used mostly for military communications satellites and high-definition television broadcasting. "A lot of people don't realize that Mississippi has been a key player since 2002 of 90 percent of Lockheed Martin's satellites in space," Hartley said. Four propulsion systems are in production now - a NASA/NOAA GOES next generation weather satellite, two Military Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites and an Australian communications satellite. "We put out eight units last year," he said. Hartley said having the propulsion manufacturing center located at Stennis is advantageous to Lockheed Martin in several ways. "We have a good supply of personnel who are experienced in propulsion work," he said. "Another advantage is Mississippi's low cost of living that gives us an advantage with rates. And we're close to NASA, which is one of the bigger customers of Lockheed Martin." As to the future, Hartley said there are several contracts for continued production of the propulsion systems. "We have a pretty good workload for the next three years minimum," he said.

#Aerospace, #Manufacturing, #Stennis Space Center