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Lockheed Martin CEO: ‘We Want a Sustainable Presence on the Moon’

October 23, 2019, 2:45 PM UTC

Lockheed Martin is eyeing a new landscape as the defense contractor continues to innovate: space.

The industry behemoth is partnering with Jeff Bezos’ aerospace startup Blue Origin in a bid to be part of NASA’s Artemis mission, a plan to land the first woman (and next man) on the moon by 2024. The plan is to build a human-capable lunar landing system, and Lockheed Martin is a key player.

“We want a sustainable presence on the moon, and this is going to be a capability that we’re going to compete on the team with Blue Origin to pursue,” Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin’s chairman, president and CEO, said onstage at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

The company will build Orion, the exploration vehicle that gets astronauts to the gateway, as well as teaming with Blue Origin on the lander by using the Lockheed’s “Ascent Element” that uses the Orion technology for the lander.

And while Lockheed’s typical customers happen to be massive governments, Hewson maintains working with smaller and medium-sized suppliers (like startup Blue Origin) is important, as they bring innovation and excitement. “We rely very significantly on small and medium-sized suppliers who are investing in innovation and teaming together with them, so we’re really excited about this,” she said.

But Lockheed’s involvement is not just about burgeoning technology or exciting space exploration. The defense contractor is privy to some of the biggest global threats facing the U.S., and is tasked with providing solutions to protect the country. In fact, Hewson says that in the 30 years she’s been at Lockheed, the global threat level “right now [is] more accelerated than it’s ever been.”

And the focus on space, while certainly motivated by curiosity and innovation, is a bit broader in scope for Lockheed.

“While space is exciting for us [for] exploration, exciting for us for helping us to learn more about our solar system, learn more about how the earth was formed and all the things we can do in science and bring all that into our lives, … at the same time, space is becoming a war fighting domain as well,” Hewson said. “We use it … for missile warning, we use it for how we help our men and women in their advanced communications and things of that nature, but it’s clearly becoming also a very concerning area from a national security standpoint, so we’ve got to continue to invest in that as well.”

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