Lockheed Promises 1,200 CEV Jobs in Houston
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.

Lockheed Martin says it would bring 1,200 jobs to the Houston area if NASA selects the company to build the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV).

John Karas, Lockheed's vice president for space exploration, made the announcement March 24 at the University of Houston-Clearlake before an audience of state and local officials, including U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).

Lockheed Martin submitted its final CEV proposal to NASA last week. The firm is competing against a Northrop Grumman and its teammate Boeing for a contract valued at billions of dollars to help NASA design and build an Apollo-like capsule that would be used to transport astronauts to the international space station starting around 2014. The CEV would also be used in combination with other systems to transport astronauts to the Moon starting around 2018.

Karas said the 1,200 mostly engineering jobs would represent about half of the Lockheed Martin team's CEV workforce.

Lockheed Martin currently has about 800 employees in Houston spread across several NASA engineering support contracts.

"We are following the vein that we are going to do our CEV program with NASA side by side at the human space flight centers and help the transition from shuttle and station to CEV," Karas said in an interview.

NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston is managing the CEV program. Karas said the Lockheed jobs would be spread between the center itself and contractor facilities in the immediate vicinity.

Lockheed Martin announced in late February that it would perform final assembly and checkout of the CEV in Florida, using facilities a Kennedy Space Center that would be improved with the aid of state funding. A Lockheed win on CEV would mean 400 to 500 new jobs for Florida, Karas said in an interview.

About 300 to 400 jobs also would be created at Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Denver base of operations if the company wins the CEV competition, Karas said.

Texas, like Florida, has offered financial incentives to lure the CEV jobs to the state.

Karas declined to quantify the dollar value of the Texas incentive package, but said they were significant and would help pay for worker training, infrastructure and facility improvements needed for the CEV program.

Northrop Grumman so far has not announced where it would locate its CEV workforce should it win the competition.

Brooks McKinney, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems in El Segundo, Calif., said that the company has provided its workforce plan to NASA as part of it CEV proposal but would not be discussing job locations publicly until summer.