Lockheed Martin begins building $350 million satellite facility in Jeffco

Lockheed Martin Corp. has started construction on a new $350 million satellite manufacturing facility at its Waterton Canyon campus in Jefferson County.

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) said its new 266,000-square-foot Gateway Center satellite plant will be completed in 2020.

The new facility is part of the ongoing transformation and expansion of the foothills campus, which is the headquarters of aerospace and defense company’s Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. (LMSS) division.

Construction is expected to employ a total of 1,500 contractors over the course of three years, the company said.

LMSS has added more than 750 local jobs since 2014, and it currently has about 350 job openings.

The new building will accommodate that recent growth and new future projects, the company said.

“This is our factory of the future: agile, efficient and packed with innovations. We’ll be able to build satellites that communicate with front-line troops, explore other planets, and support unique missions,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of LMSS, in a statement. “You could fit the Space Shuttle in the high bay with room to spare. That kind of size and versatility means we’ll be able to maximize economies of scale, and with all of our test chambers under one roof, we can streamline and speed production.”

The company has other clean rooms and satellite production facilities on the campus, but they’re all typically being used, LMSS spokesman Matt Kramer said. The company is in the midst of building four large global positioning satellites for the U.S. Air Force, weather satellites, and NASA’s Insight lander that’s scheduled to launch on a mission to Mars next year.

Adding another large satellite cleanroom and production facility will let the company quickly start on future commercial or federal government satellite projects it expects, Kramer said.

The new plant is designed to use 3-D printing, digital design and virtual reality to make satellite construction more efficient.

The Gateway Center clean room will fit five large-scale satellites being built simultaneously. It’s also designed to be flexible enough for use in manufacturing small satellites, too, the company said.

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