Press Release

Lockheed Martin team proposes innovative low-risk design for NASA’s Next Generation Space Telescope

By SpaceRef Editor
October 9, 2001
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A team led by Lockheed Martin Space
Systems has submitted a proposal to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
(GSFC) for the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), a key mission in
NASA’s Origins Program. The new space observatory, targeted for launch in
2009, will help NASA observe the first stars and galaxies formed in the

The Lockheed Martin team, which includes Goodrich, Jackson and Tull
Engineers and the University of Arizona, has delivered innovative technical
and management approaches to NASA for NGST. The team’s design for the
observatory includes a lightweight 6-meter-class deployable mirror.

“Our fundamental objective in this proposal has been to define an overall
NGST architecture that exhibits sufficient performance, cost and schedule
credibility to justify proceeding with the formulation and implementation
effort. We believe we’ve succeeded in that goal,” said Jeff Harris,
president, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Missiles & Space Operations. “Our
long heritage of building and integrating space observatories, combined with
this team’s extensive experience with highly advanced optical systems will
serve us well in moving this very important mission from drawing board to
orbit. In addition, our commitment to management innovation and process
improvement will help to chart a successful and low-risk course for NGST in
a life-cycle cost-constrained environment.”

The NGST will be a space observatory optimized for infrared imaging and
spectroscopy of astronomical targets. It will be launched to a location
about a million miles from Earth opposite the Sun where it will conduct its
observations in the cold of deep space. To accomplish the ambitious science
goals outlined for it, the NGST will be equipped with extremely sensitive
infrared detectors.

Its large aperture and IR detectors will allow NGST to see much farther back
in time. Objects 400 times fainter than those currently studied with large
ground-based infrared telescopes or the current generation of space-based
infrared telescopes will be observable. NGST will do this while equaling or
surpassing the spatial resolution (image sharpness) of the Hubble Space

Astronomers have a fairly good understanding of what the Universe is like
today and in the past to when the universe was between 10-12 billion years
old, based on observations at all wavelengths. They are also fairly
confident of what the universe was like when it was quite young (less than
about 1 million years old) based upon observation of the cosmic microwave
background and an understanding of high-energy particle physics. The middle
ground however, between 1 million and a few billion years old, is completely
unobserved. It is during that time period that the first structures seen
today, namely stars and galaxies, began to form.

The powerful capabilities of NGST will allow astronomers to focus on that
important time period and begin to fashion answers to some fundamental

1. What is the shape of the universe?

2. How do galaxies evolve?

3. How do stars and planetary systems form and interact?

4. What are the life cycles of matter in the universe?

5. What is dark matter?

The NGST is a NASA-led project being undertaken by an international team
comprising government, European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency,
industry and academia. The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the
project. Principal Investigators under contract to NASA and ESA will develop
scientific instruments for the observatory. The Space Telescope Science
Institute in Baltimore, Md. will be responsible for the ground system,
observatory operations, and science program management.

NASA’s Origins Program follows the chain of events that began with the birth
of the Universe at the Big Bang. It seeks to understand the entire process
of cosmic evolution from the formation of chemical elements, galaxies, stars
and planets, through the mixing of chemicals and energy that cradles life on
Earth, to the earliest self-replicating organisms and the profusion of life.
In short, Origins hopes to answer the fundamental question: Are we alone in
the Universe?

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, Colo., is
one of the major operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space
Systems designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a variety of
advanced technology systems for civil, military and commercial customers.
Chief products include a full-range of space launch systems, including
heavy-lift capability, ground systems, remote sensing and communications
satellites for commercial and government customers, advanced space
observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and
missile defense systems. The NGST project is led by its Missiles & Space
Operations arm headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA with project management
centered in Greenbelt, MD.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a highly diversified
global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development,
manufacture and integration of advanced-technology systems, products and
services. The Corporation’s core businesses span space and
telecommunications, electronics, information and services, aeronautics,
energy and systems integration. Lockheed Martin had 2000 sales surpassing
$25 billion.


NOTE TO EDITORS: A high-resolution artist’s concept of the Lockheed
Martin-proposed Next Generation Space Telescope is available for downloading
at the following URL:

For more information about Lockheed Martin Space Systems, see our website at

SpaceRef staff editor.