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Kennedy Space Center Ready For Work On Orion

By | February 2, 2009

      After a two-year, top to bottom renovation, the High Bay Facility of the Operations & Checkout (O&C) Building at Kennedy Space Center is ready to begin preparations to build the new Orion crew exploration vehicle, Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] announced.

      Built in 1964, the O&C facility has a proud history as the final integration and checkout building for spacecraft used for human spaceflight beginning with the Apollo program.

      In 2007, after completing support activities for the International Space Station, major upgrades were planned to support future human spaceflight missions.

      The State of Florida, Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT) and NASA committed to invest more than $55 million to create a state-of-the-art facility to help build the next- generation U.S. space capsule, Orion.

      According to Linda Weatherman of the Florida Economic Development Council, the renovation investment made a significant economic impact to the local and state economies. The O&C project has provided over 230 jobs in Florida for the design, fabrication and construction activities.

      Renovations by Florida’s Hensel Phelps, the construction contractor for this project, began in 2007 with demolition of abandoned systems. The project remained on schedule with new facility designs established concurrently by a team of NASA, supporting contractors and Lockheed Martin engineers.

      Extending the economic impact beyond the state of Florida, Lockheed contracted a significant portion of the Orion manufacturing and assembly operations to United Space Alliance, which will utilize its Florida Shuttle workforce.

      USA is a joint venture of The Boeing Co. [BA] and Lockheed.

      This includes transportation of crew modules, service modules and miscellaneous equipment to support Orion’s Flight Test Program and Flight Hardware Production. Flight hardware will be fabricated at locations around the country and shipped to the O&C facility for final integration and assembly. Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Utah and Virginia are also among states contributing to this effort.

      Now that the facility is officially certified, the next phase of activation will take place over the next two years as specially designed tooling stations and other assembly equipment are moved into place to support the first Orion spacecraft assembly, which is now scheduled to begin in 2012.

      The Constellation program is comprised of spacecraft and surface systems that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station, back to the moon and eventually on to Mars. Lockheed is the prime contractor to NASA for Orion, which is scheduled to make its first crewed flight in 2015.

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