WASHINGTON — Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin has begun construction on a new, $350 million facility near Denver that will produce next-generation satellites.
The new facility will be part of Lockheed’s Waterton Canyon campus.
The Gateway Center will include a state-of-the-art “clean bay room,” a sterile construction environment that prevents dirt dust and other contaminants from damaging spacecraft component. It will be able to simultaneously build a wide range of satellites, from micro to macro. Also, it will include an expansive thermal vacuum chamber used to simulate the harsh environment of space.
The main construction bay will also be large enough to hold a space shuttle, with room to spare, Lockheed said, making the 3.5 million-square-foot facility one of the largest space technology centers in the country.
Construction is expected to be completed in 2020.
It will be certified to meet security standards required for national security missions.
Construction of the new facility will employ 1,500 contractors over three years.
“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 Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
Lockheed’s Waterton Canyon campus dates back to the 1950s, and currently has more than 4,000 employees. It produces a number of spacecraft. Among those currently in production are new Air Force GPS III satellites, several weather satellites and NASA’s InSight Mars lander.