The Future Of Space Exploration Takes Step Forward In Littleton

Lockheed Martin Dedicates Simulation Facility For Orion Program

The Orion crew module, which is being built at Lockheed Martin's Littleton facility, may one day take astronauts to the moon, Mars, and beyond. But to make that possible, engineers must test critical systems to ensure safe and successful missions.

To accomplish testing more accurate than computer models, Lockheed Martin built a $50 million, 41,000-square-foot facility called the Space Operations Simulation Center. The SOSC is capable of testing docking, imaging, descent, landing and other systems built for the Orion spacecraft.

"Our goal is to be 10 times better than the shuttle on the way up, as far as safety and landing are concerned, and likewise in space, when we are doing very adventuresome things like going to the moon, or going to asteroids, that we provide safety and safe return for our astronauts," said John Karas, vice president and general manager of human space flight at Lockheed Martin.

In 2006, NASA awarded a seven-year, $3.9 billion contract to Lockheed Martin to design and build the Orion spacecraft, which will replace the space shuttle program. Orion's first an unmanned orbital test mission is planned for 2013, with the first crew launch scheduled for 2016.

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