Mars, missiles and hypersonic weapons: Lockheed Martin celebrates 6 decades in Huntsville

Mars, missiles and hypersonic weapons: Lockheed Martin celebrates 6 decades in Huntsville

Photo: Lockheed Martin’s Huntsville campus in Cummings Research Park. (Lockheed Martin)

By Paul Gattis | [email protected]

It’s the nature of milestone anniversaries to both celebrate the past and look to the future. That’s what Lockheed Martin is doing as it marks its 60th year in Huntsville.

There is the joy of reflection in being one of Huntsville’s there-from-the-beginning defense contractors and the successes that have come along the way. And there is the unrelenting future with more successes relied upon for the sake of national defense for a company that has established itself as a critical part of the country’s safety.

“I was here on this campus when there were only like 80 people in total on the Huntsville campus,” said Jeff Kepley, vice president of Missile Defense Programs and Huntsville executive site lead at Lockheed Martin. “And then 30 years later, to be sitting here with 1,800 (employees) in northern Alabama, it’s just kind of mind boggling but goes right along with the growth of the city. It goes right along with the missions that we serve here. And we are super proud to be part of Huntsville and have been part of Huntsville the last 60 years. And (we’re) looking forward to what the future has for us here as well.”

The past aside, Lockheed Martin supports an array of defense and space programs in Huntsville. They include programs such as the U.S. Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon, Black Hawk helicopter and Future Vertical Lift; Missile Defense Agency’s Next Generation Interceptor, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), and Command and Control Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) system and NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle as part of the agency’s flagship Mars Sample Return program.

Lockheed Martin’s 1960s-era facility in Huntsville. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin in 2021 opened a new digital factory for hypersonic strike production in Courtland – about 50 miles west of the company’s Huntsville campus on Bradford Drive in Cummings Research Park. According to a Lockheed Martin press release from that ribbon cutting, it’s the company’s commitment to establishing northern Alabama as the “home of hypersonic strike production.”

The hypersonic program is an integral part of Lockheed Martin’s mission in north Alabama, Kepley said.

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