Lockheed Martin commemorated 50 years of operations in Huntsville, Ala., May 1 with a celebration attended by approximately 1,000 people, including Lockheed Martin employees and retirees, government and military personnel, industry partners and community members.
John Holly, vice president of Missile Defense Systems and deputy for Strategic and Missile Defense Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, led the ceremony. Government and community officials participating in the ceremony included U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong.
A commitment to innovation in developing defense technologies to meet military needs inspired Lockheed Martin to establish a facility in Huntsville five decades ago,î said Holly. ìWe now embark on our next 50 years in Huntsville with the same commitment and dedication to innovation and excellence.
A half-century ago, Dr. Werhner Von Braun, who was the director of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, proposed the idea of a Lockheed Martin presence in Huntsville. The company accepted the invitation to expand to ìRocket City,î purchased a large parcel of land and broke ground May 22, 1963, on the construction of its first building on Bradford Drive.
Two decades later, the Huntsville facility played a key role in Lockheed Martinís development of the U.S. Armyís Homing Overlay Experiment Vehicle. The vehicle made history June 10, 1984, with the worldís first hit-to-kill missile intercept outside the atmosphere, destroying a test missile above the Pacific Ocean. The hit-to-kill missile defense technology has since been proven in more than 70 successful intercepts in combat and testing.
Today, approximately 800 employees work on Lockheed Martin Space System Companyís 57-acre campus on Bradford Drive in Cummings Research Park, which now houses nine buildings, including the first structure constructed 50 years ago. The complex performs program management and engineering for key missile defense contracts, including the Missile Defense Agencyís Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and Targets and Countermeasures programs, battle management for the Medium Extended Air Defense System and a number of other battle management programs.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Companyís legacy in Huntsville also includes joining the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center team in 1973 that revolutionized human space flight as a prime contractor on the Space Shuttle program. Spanning four decades, Lockheed Martinís production, design and process innovations on the shuttleís External Tank significantly increased flight payload capacity for shuttle missions by almost 20 percent, enabling deployment of critical national security payloads, as well as the Hubble Space Telescope and construction of the International Space Station. Today, the company provides engineering and technical support to the Marshall Environment Test Complex.
The establishment of the Huntsville facility in 1963 is one of the landmarks in the 100-year history of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, which began with the founding of the Glenn L. Martin Company Aug. 16, 1912, in Los Angeles, Calif., and the establishment of the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company Dec. 19, 1912, in San Francisco, Calif., by Allan and Malcolm Loughead. The corporationís centennial commemoration, ì100 Years of Accelerating Tomorrow, continues through the summer of 2013, during which time the company is highlighting 100 stories from its history at www.lockheedmartin.com/100years.