Sunday, April 02, 2006

Lockheed turns up the heat

Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Jefferson County have won a NASA contract to develop and build a heat-resistant space capsule for transporting the next-generation of robotic rover to the surface of Mars. The Mars science laboratory rover is planned to arrive on Mars in 2009 and will build on the success of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Both Spirit and Opportunity were provided with head shields built at the Lockheed Jefferson County facility. According to Lockheed, the heat shield for the new rover would be the largest ever built, spanning 15 feet in diameter. The heat shields for the two existing rovers measured just 8.5 feet and an Apollo capsule heat shields measured 12.8 feet.