The “Space Race” has evolved into a “relay”


Lisa Callahan, VP & GM Commercial Civil Space – Lockheed Martin Space Systems


Interview – Khalid Athar


Khalid Athar: How critical is collaboration to advancements in national space programmes?

Lisa Callahan: Space is a global enterprise – owned by no country and no agency. The “Space Race,” which began more than 50 years ago, has evolved into a “relay” instead of an all-out sprint. Collaboration and cooperation are essential to advancing national space programs and advancing our industry.

Collaboration is the foundation of every successful space program, and helps to foster innovation and discovery. Seeing space travel and exploration blossom into a global priority has been incredible to watch.

NASA’s Orion program is a great example of collaboration. We at Lockheed Martin are building the Orion crew module, which will carry astronauts to deep space. The European Space Agency is building the service module of the spacecraft, which supports the crew module after launch until reentry separation. This international collaboration has allowed us to combine the expertise of two major space agencies for the benefit of them both and is an example of how we can achieve great things through international partnerships.

KA: How important is the role of human capital development within the space industry?

LC: People are fundamental to success in and expansion of the global space industry. By supporting the human capital development both today and into the future, we can advance this industry and support the UAE’s space ambitions for the benefit of the people of the Emirates. Lockheed Martin has partnered with the UAE space agency to help develop the UAE space-based workforce training program to develop emerging leaders in the UAE space industry. “Generation Space: The Space Fundamentals Training Program” targets early career professionals across the UAE aerospace industry and includes training in the UAE and the United States.

The program begins in the UAE with training in “space foundations” and moves into more technical topics, covering more than 200 hours of course work. Participants will also complete mentor-guided research projects.

KA: What role did Lockheed Marin play in several pivotal projects such as the Gemini program, Apollo missions, Skylab space station and, the Space Shuttle missions?

LC: John Glen was put into orbit with an Atlas rocket, which was built by a Lockheed Martin heritage company and we’re now building the spacecraft that will take humans out into deep space, Orion. For the Space Shuttle we built all 135 of the large external fuel tanks for that famous program. We played a role in Skylab and the International Space Station and we’re proud to say that we’ve been on every NASA mission to Mars, starting with the Mariner missions in the 1960s up to NASA’s next mission to Mars, the InSight lander.

KA: What are some interesting projects that involved Lockheed Martin especially within the Middle East, Africa and Asia?

LC: Last year we supported training programs with students and young professionals from across the region. In September, our “Generation Space: The Space Fundamentals Training Program” at the OSIRIS-REx launch—a NASA mission to bring back a substantial sample of a carbonaceous asteroid. Attending the launch was part of the busy schedule our training participants completed as part of the program. While in the US trainees also completed job shadowing, touring Lockheed Martin’s virtual reality facility, and seeing satellite production facilities.

Across Lockheed Martin, we provide multiple technologies to the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Our Aeronautics division provides C-130 aircraft and we at Space Systems are building A2100 satellites for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Japan.

KA: Orion is being designed to go deeper into space for longer periods of time. What are some of the challenges associated with such an undertaking?

LC: Orion is the only crewed spacecraft designed from the beginning to go into deep space. Its communications and guidance systems, radiation and heat shielding, life support and crew safety systems are all built for 1,000 day missions. These are some of the critical technical challenges that are built in from the beginning of the program. Many of these robust capabilities have already been tested and flown into space on Orion’s first launch in 2014.

There’s a certain level of deep-space engineering rigor that you don’t need when flying to low Earth orbit, and it’s why NASA is investing in a purpose-built deep space vehicle. Orion’s built-in capabilities open up the moon, Mars and more for NASA in ways no other vehicle can.

KA: What are the challenges with landing on Mars?

LC: Mars is very challenging to land on. NASA has only successfully landing on Mars seven times and Lockheed Martin has a played a major role in each of those going back to the Viking 1 lander in 1976, which we built for NASA. The Martian atmosphere is one of the major challenges associated with landing on Mars, as it’s too thin to use just a heat shield and parachutes the way we land on Earth.