Lockheed to Assemble CEV in Florida if Chosen by NASA
An artist depict's a Lockheed Martin Crew Exploration Vehicle in lunar orbit. The firm is one of two groups vying for a contract to build the new spacecraft for NASA.
Credit: Lockheed Martin.

WASHINGTON -- Lockheed Martin Corp. announced Wednesday that it would build NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) in Florida if selected by the space agency as prime contractor for the multibillion-dollar space shuttle-replacement project later this year.

John Karas, Lockheed Martin vice president for space exploration, made the announcement in Cape Canaveral, Fla., in front of an audience of state and local officials including Florida Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings.

"Lockheed Martin's proposal to do final assembly and checkout of the Crew Exploration Vehicle -- CEV for short -- reinforces what we believe is the absolute advantage Florida has to offer as a location as we look toward the maturing of our nation's space industry," Jennings said.

Florida has put together a $45.5 million incentive package for locating CEV work in the state that is awaiting approval by the state legislature.

The incentives include $35 million in infrastructure improvements and $10.5 million in worker training assistance, according to Jennings.

Jennings said the incentives have been offered to both Lockheed Martin and its CEV competitor, Northrop Grumman.

"We will not play favorites," Jennings said. "We have issued an incentive package to both of the companies. We are very pleased that Lockheed has come back and told us that this is the place for them."

Northrop Grumman spokesman Brooks McKinney declined to say where his company would build the CEV if selected to do so.

"We are preparing a CEV program implementation plan as part of the Phase 2 proposal that we will submit next month to NASA," McKinney said via e-mail. "That plan will articulate the work locations and work flow processes that we believe offer NASA and the nation the best value for developing and producing the CEV. At the current time, we consider this information to be competition-sensitive."

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have been in a head-to-head competition for the CEV prime contract since 2004. Bids for the project are due in March, with NASA expected to make a selection in late summer.

Karas said that if Lockheed Martin wins the competition, it would perform the CEV final assembly work at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in the storied Operations & Checkout Building, using the incentive money offered by Florida to update the facility and to do any worker training that may be necessary.

The CEV work would provide 300-400 jobs, helping Florida offset job losses as the space shuttle program winds down in the years ahead, Karas said.

Lockheed Martin plans to make further announcements in the weeks ahead about where it would do CEV component and structures manufacturing, Karas said.

"We are extremely pleased and proud to partner with the state of Florida in support of NASA's CEV program." Karas said. "The point of final assembly and testing for each mission will be critical to the viability of NASA's CEV program and the ideal location to do that is here in Florida adjacent to the launch site.