NASA’s announcement that Lockheed Martin will design and build the administration’s next space vehicle is exciting news for people in the bay area. As Houston Public Radio’s Laurie Johnson reports, the contract is expected to bring thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars into the communitites surrounding the Johnson Space Center
The $8 billion contract between NASA and Lockheed Martin could run through the year 2019. Lockheed will design, develop, build and test the new Orion crew exploration vehicle. Most of that work will be done in Houston, in cooperation with the Johnson Space Center. City of Nassau Bay City Manager John Kennedy’s office window looks out on the JSC campus just across the street. He says the community will reap economic benefit from the CEV project.
“Not only from officing the various contractors who would be here, but also I can see growth in retail activity, I can see growth in new home construction, I can see growth in any number of areas that would be mutually beneficial between the communities around Johnson Space Center and the aerospace contractors and their employers and family members.”
It’s more than just 1,200 new jobs that has people in Houston’s space community excited. Those 1,200 jobs represent an influx of intellectual capital. The nation’s best scientists and engineers will move here, bringing their families with them and settling in the Bay Area. Bay Area Economic Partnership Aerospace Marketing Director Bob Mitchell says the economic impact of this contract will extend for decades.
“For the next 30 or 40 years, this community is going to continue to grow, is going to see new industry coming here because when we go back to the moon, we’re going to be on the moon for six months at a time, not six or seven days like we have been in the past. We’re going to have to live off the moon, so in order to do that we’re going to have to develop new technologies.”
It’s a logical progression for those technologies to be developed here, according to Mitchell. And he says long-term projects such as this will place the region squarely and permanently on the space exploration map.
“We’ve somewhat floundered for years, and then whenever the vision came out, the vision for space exploration came out about two years ago nobody thought that it was going to be a reality, it was just a vision. The reality is here. The vision is real, it’s not just something that’s being talked about. With the award of this contract, that vision has now become a reality.”
The next step for the Bay Area Economic Partnership is to cultivate congressional support for the region’s space industry. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.