Aerospace & Defense

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Emerging Capabilities

Planetary and Asteroid Exploration


Planets and asteroids contain mysteries that, when unlocked, will help humanity better understand our solar system and universe and will foster greater technological breakthroughs to enhance life on Earth.

Lockheed Martin is developing a variety of new spacecraft that will explore planets and asteroids in our solar system.  These capabilities will help scientists and researchers gain new insights about the solar system, universe, Earth and life origins.

We are building the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, NASA’s first spacecraft designed for long-duration, human-rated deep space exploration. Orion will transport humans to interplanetary destinations beyond low Earth orbit, such as asteroids, the moon and eventually Mars, and return them safely back to Earth.

We have played a role in every NASA mission to Mars, and we have built 10 spacecraft and eight aeroshells supporting Mars missions.  Our Mars involvement with NASA continues, with the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutionN (MAVEN) and the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft promising to expand our knowledge of the planet’s upper atmosphere and deep interior, respectively.

The Juno spacecraft launched in August 2011 and will arrive at Jupiter in July 2016. The Juno mission will allow scientists and researchers to better understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter and to study the planet’s interior, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Scheduled to launch in 2016, the Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) will rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid – asteroid 1999 RQ36 – to study it and return to Earth with samples that may hold clues to the origin of the solar system.

Lockheed Martin enjoys a strong legacy of space telescope development. Images from Hubble have inspired awe at the grandeur of the universe while expanding knowledge. Lockheed Martin is working with the University of Arizona to develop the Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, which will serve as the primary imaging instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope. Webb will be the most powerful space telescope ever built, peering deeper into space and further back into time than any previous instrument.

We designed, built and manage the Interface Region Imaging Spectograph (IRIS), which launched June 27, 2013. IRIS is operational and will gather images that lead to new insights about the genesis of solar storms.