Defense Watch Lockheed Martin: U.S Missile Contracts, Australian SATCOM, Moon Satellites and NASA

Defense Watch Lockheed Martin: U.S Missile Contracts, Australian SATCOM, Moon Satellites and NASA

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Lockheed Martin Corporation has recently secured several projects with terrestrial connections that merit mention. First, the Corp announced on Monday, April 3rd, that they had been awarded a contract to produce missiles for the U.S Army, specifically Joint-Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM) and HELLFIRE missiles, for at least four years. A total evaluation of the contract of $439 million in the first year is accompanied by an overall price point of $4.5 billion with follow-on awards included. Lockheed noted as well that the JAGM program anticipates a “significant increase” in international demand. “The contract provides maximum flexibility to facilitate the procurement of both systems by multiple domestic and international customers, allowing for the future expansion of both HELLFIRE and JAGM’s global footprint. HELLFIRE currently has more than 30 FMS customers, along with being integrated onto more than 15 platforms. With more than 125,000 missiles produced, JAGM and HELLFIRE continue to be the weapon of choice in critical, precision engagement opportunities.” Both of these munitions are primarily helicopter and drone launched.

Moving on, the Australian Defense Force (ADF) also announced on Monday that Lockheed had been selected as the preferred bidder for a multibillion-dollar military contract to build global satellite communications and supportive infrastructure. This contract has not been signed yet, but has entered the stage of negotiations between the Corp and the Australian government. This contract has apparently been a lucrative opportunity and has been sought out by several major defense contractors and others for the past two years, such as Airbus, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Optus. Labeled Defense Joint Project 9102, or JP9102, it is reportedly going to be one of Australia’s largest space projects to date. Bids opened in April 2021 and closed in January 2022. The ADF is reportedly looking to purchase at least two geostationary satellites and wants sovereign military satcom capability in their operation as opposed to consumer-grade and U.S.-reliant Wideband Global Satcom constellation infrastructure that is currently in place. Air Vice-Marshal David Scheul, head of Australia’s Air Defense and Space Systems Division, said the project will bring Australia’s “first sovereign-controlled satellite communication system over the Indo-Pacific ocean regions.” Lockheed Martin said it also teamed up with the government of Victoria State in southeast Australia to establish Victoria as the engineering and technical hub for JP9102, promising to create more than 200 advanced space industry jobs in the state.

Lastly, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, Crescent Space Services LLC, has been established for the purpose of creating a network of satellites in lunar orbit so as to support spacecraft on and around the Moon and to maintain a stable, uninterrupted communication link between the two celestial bodies. The network established will be called Parsec, and it will use “a constellation of small communication satellites” to relay signals between lunar missions and Earth-based stations. Furthermore, according to the FCC application documents, Crescent installations will number at least 230 space stations, or user terminals, on the physical surface of the Moon, which are an addition to the satellite constellation. Lockheed Martin, according to Gizmodo, is looking forward to a healthy supply of Moon missions that will require their subsidiaries contractual services. A lunar communication cell-phone service essentially. Another rung towards corporate expansion into the stars. One small step for man, one giant leap for corpos. “Crescent is well positioned to serve the upcoming wave of lunar science and exploration missions, including NASA’s crewed Artemis moon landings,” Crescent CEO Joe Landon, who previously served as vice president of Advanced Programs Development for Lockheed Martin Space, said in the company’s statement. The extent of Parsec’s network would also reach the “dark side” of the moon, which would enable a whole new arena of scientific research and moon installations. Crescent advertises itself as creating “Easier access to the Moon for all customers… Communicating from and navigating on the Moon is challenging. Beyond Earth orbit, lunar missions must overcome vast distances and harsh conditions. The Parsec network in lunar orbit makes it easy to stay connected and find your way through the challenging lunar environment… Crescent is committed to delivering reliable infrastructure services in deep space.”

Likely, Lockheed’s plans for lunar integration will coincide with NASA’s own plans for the creation of a moon base. In 2024, two prominent NASA-led moon missions are set to launch, one of which is planned to kick-off humanity’s further ventures into the stars by first creating a “Lunar Gateway” through the orbiting of the named joint international space station around the moon, whose path will be a halo shape to maintain contact with the Earth. Included will be a “LunaNet” that will work to establish communications and navigation. This has been accompanied by the 2024 launch of the Artemis II, the return of astronauts to the moon’s surface with the goal of creating a sustainable outpost as a stepping stone to future explorations, with Mars as the first focus. The four astronauts who have been chosen for this mission have recently been announced by NASA.

A full view of Gateway that includes elements from international partners. Built with commercial and international partners, the Gateway is critical to sustainable lunar exploration and will serve as a model for future missions to Mars.
Credits: NASA
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