Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lunar lander Altair office opened in Houston by Lockheed-Martin

With design competition underway to win the lion's share of the contract to build the long-sought successor to the Apollo lunar module, the Constellation Altair, defense and aerospace giant Lockheed-Martin is making an attempt to demonstrate their seriousness.

The company has announced the location of its Altair program office conveniently in Houston, in "it's bid to provide support for the next-generation human lunar lander system for NASA." Lockheed-Martin "submitted its proposal to NASA last month for the Altair Conceptual Design Contract and the agency is expected to award several contracts for the first phase of the program later this spring."

The announcement, by way of PR Newswire, reiterates the role Altair must eventually play, first as heavy-lift cargo, flying on-board the Ares V (probably) to rendezvous with a crewed Orion command-service module prior to Tran Lunar Injection. Lockheed-Martin is obviously anxious to be awarded the next phase in Altair's design, if not a bit transparent in the perhaps-premature gesture of opening an office so close to the Johnson Space Center.

"We recognize that locating key expertise and program management support in Houston adjacent to NASA's Johnson Space Center, where the Constellation Program and Altair Project offices are located, allows us to provide responsive and comprehensive support to NASA on the Altair Conceptual Design Contract," said Brian Duffy, vice president and program manager of the Altair Lunar Lander program for Lockheed Martin. "Utilizing the existing facilities and our experienced human space flight team in the Houston area provides significant synergy that we are bringing to bear for NASA's next-generation lunar missions."

Duffy, a four-time Shuttle astronaut and commander of two of the missions, executed four rendezvous maneuvers with other spacecraft and docked with the International Space Station. He also participated in the development and testing of displays, flight crew procedures, and computer software to be used on Shuttle flights, all of which have given him unique and valuable expertise that will be useful in assisting NASA in designing the elements of a new generation of Altair lunar spacecraft and successful lunar missions in the future.

Lockheed-Martin then reminds news writers and readers everywhere that the company is already prime contractor for the Orion CEV, schedule to take its first manned flight in 2015.

"Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.

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