Lockheed Martin has opened a new development center that will take a more integrated approach to building RF payloads for satellites, bringing each stage of production under one roof.
The RF Payload Center of Excellence, located in Denver, Colo., will unify the majority of the company's payload engineering, production, and testing, with an eye toward cutting production costs and man hours spent on RF hardware.
Importantly, the company expects the new approach will reduce the cost of shipping different parts of the RF payload between facilities. It could also aid the development of standardized parts for future RF payloads, the defense contractor said.
A fragmented development process often results in a large number of custom components, as changes are made to the overall design and functionality of the payload. These parts are more costly to fabricate and slow down the production cycle.
The RF Payload Center of Excellence is modeled after the same strategy as the company’s Optical Payload Center of Excellence, which was opened earlier this year. The RF development team is working to stitch virtual design, 3-D printing, and automated assembly, test, and inspection into a single payload cycle.
Over the last five decades, Lockheed has developed almost 200 of these payloads and, in most cases, each stage of development has taken place in a specialized facility. The new center is tasked with developing new antenna, array, and transmitter technologies.