The preliminary construction phase has begun on Lockheed Martin’s new $350m satellite production facility, which is located on the company's Waterton Canyon campus near Denver, Colorado, US.

The company expects the new 266,000ft² Gateway Center, which will be certified to security standards required to support vital national security missions, to speed up production of next-generation satellites, and lower costs and cycle time.

Featuring a paperless, digitally enabled production environment, the facility will include a high bay clean room to simultaneously build satellites ranging from micro to macro, rapidly reconfigurable production lines, and advanced test capability.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems executive vice-president Rick Ambrose said: "This is our factory of the future: agile, efficient and packed with innovations. We'll be able to build satellites that communicate with front-line troops, explore other planets, and support unique missions.

"You could fit the Space Shuttle in the high bay with room to spare. That kind of size and versatility means we'll be able to maximise economies of scale, and with all of our test chambers under one roof, we can streamline and speed production."

The Gateway Center will also be equipped with an expansive thermal vacuum chamber to simulate the harsh environment of space, an anechoic chamber for highly perceptive testing of sensors and communications systems, and an advanced test operations and analysis centre.

"We'll be able to build satellites that communicate with front-line troops, explore other planets, and support unique missions."

Ambrose added: “The Gateway Center, coupled with advancements in 3D printing, virtual reality design and smart payloads, will deliver game-changing innovations while saving our customers time and money."

For the project, Hensel Phelps has been selected as the general contractor, while Matrix PDM Engineering and Dynavac has been contracted for thermal vacuum chamber design and construction. ETS-Lindgren will carry out anechoic chamber design and construction.

The company expects to employ a total of 1,500 contractors for the construction of the project, which is due for completion in 2020.

Lockheed's Waterton Canyon campus is currently producing the US Air Force's GPS III satellites, Nasa's InSight Mars lander, NOAA's GOES-R Series weather satellites, and commercial communications satellites.

Image: Lockheed Martin’s new satellite integration facility. Photo: courtesy of PRNewsfoto/Lockheed Martin Corporation.