LOCKHEED MARTIN RESUMES NORMAL SPACE SHUTTLE EXTERNAL TANK PRODUCTION
NEW ORLEANS, LA., 12-APR-05 -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) marked a successful return to Space Shuttle External Tank (ET) production activities by welding two quarter domes into a half dome tank segment on March 17.
The company halted normal production in January 2004, approximately 11 months after the Columbia shuttle accident, to focus on Return to Flight activities and to develop designs and processes necessary to retrofit existing ETs.
During the past three months, the company has delivered two retrofitted ETs to NASA, and a third will be ready in May. Construction of an External Tank takes approximately 20 months.
The window for the first Return to Flight shuttle launch opens May 15 and extends until June 3.
“It is a real morale boost for employees to begin welding flight hardware again and to see a shuttle flight scheduled in the near future,” said Ron Wetmore, Lockheed Martin Return to Flight manager. “Now that we’ve rolled several ETs out the door, it’s an appropriate time to resume production activities.”
Several photographs of the first weld are available at www.lockheedmartin.com/michoud by clicking on “Michoud Image Gallery.”
Lockheed Martin Space Systems – Michoud Operations designs and builds large aluminum and composite structures such as the Space Shuttle External Tank for aerospace and other applications at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.