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Tuesday 16 June, 2009

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin Completes Mars Science Laborato...

PARIS, June 16 /PRNewswire/ --

    PARIS AIR SHOW -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has completed production
and testing of the heatshield for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). The
heatshield is half of the large and sophisticated two-part aeroshell that
will encapsulate and protect the Curiosity rover during its deep space cruise
to Mars, and from the intense heat and friction that will be generated as the
system descends through the Martian atmosphere.

    In October 2008, Lockheed Martin delivered the other half of the
aeroshell, the backshell, to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
Calif. where it is being integrated with other flight systems. The heatshield
will be stored at Lockheed Martin facilities near Denver, Colo. until early
2011 when it will be shipped to Kennedy Space Center.

    The aeroshell/heatshield is the largest ever built to be flown at 4.5
meters (nearly 15 feet) in diameter. In contrast, the aeroshells/heatshields
of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers measured 8.5 feet and
Apollo capsule heatshields measured just less than 13 feet.

    Because of the unique entry trajectory profile that could create external
temperatures up to 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit, the heatshield uses a tiled
Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA) thermal protection system instead
of the Mars heritage Super Lightweight Ablator (SLA) 561V. This will be the
first time PICA has flown on a Mars mission. Invented by NASA Ames Research
Center, PICA was first flown as the thermal protection system on the
heatshield of the Stardust Sample Return Capsule that is now in the
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

    "The Mars Science Laboratory aeroshell is the most complex capsule to fly
to Mars," said Rich Hund, MSL program manager at Lockheed Martin Space
Systems Company. "The design had to address the large size and weight of the
rover, the largest ever sent to Mars, and the requirement for landing at a
more-precise point on Mars."

    The aeroshell has a steering capability that is produced by ejecting
ballast that off-sets the center-of-mass prior to entry into the atmosphere.
This off-set creates lift as it interacts with the thin Martian atmosphere
and allows roll control and autonomous steering through the use of thrusters.

    Prior to shipping to Kennedy Space Center, engineers will install the MSL
Entry Descent and Landing Instrumentation (MEDLI) suite on the heatshield.
Developed by NASA Langley Research Center, the MEDLI instrumentation will
measure heatshield temperatures and atmospheric pressures as the aeroshell
descends through the Martian atmosphere.

    Scheduled for launch in the fall of 2011, the Curiosity rover - built by
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory - will support the Mars Exploration Program's
strategy of "follow the water" and will have the science goals of determining
whether the planet was ever habitable, characterizing the climate and geology
of Mars, and preparing for human exploration.

    Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security
company that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principally
engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and
sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The
corporation reported 2008 sales of US$42.7 billion.

    NOTE: Photographs of the MSL heatshield being built at Lockheed Martin
are available at:

                                MEDIA CONTACT:
        Gary Napier, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company; +1-303-971-4012;
                            [email protected]


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