Lockheed Martin Sends New Robot to Mars

Nov. 18, 2013 -- The dual Atlas V rocket engines roar to life on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41. Photo: NASA.  

On Nov. 18, NASA launched its newest robotic explorer, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft, to Mars. Although it won't reach Mars until next September, MAVEN is performing "flawlessly" and represents a step toward the goal of sending astronauts to Mars by the 2030s. Further, MAVEN proved that such a spacecraft could come in on time, and on budget. For the builder of this spacecraft, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) , this is excellent news.

Here's what else you need to know.

This artist's concept shows the MAVEN spacecraft with the planet Mars in the background. Photo: NASA/Goddard.

Robots in space
According to NASA, MAVEN's mission is to study the upper atmosphere of Mars and measure current rates of atmospheric loss. With this information, scientists hope to understand how Mars may have lost its atmosphere and went from a warm, wet planet to a dry desert. 

"MAVEN joins our orbiters and rovers already at Mars to explore yet another facet of the Red Planet and prepare for human missions there by the 2030s," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "This mission is part of an integrated and strategic exploration program that is uncovering the mysteries of the solar system and enabling us to reach farther destinations." 

Lockheed stays on budget
The Nov. 18 launch is the culmination of 10 years of planning and hardware development between universities, the government, and the defense industry. The University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, or CU/LASP, is the principal investigator, Goddard provided two of the science instruments for the mission, and Lockheed built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations.

Further, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is providing navigation support, "Deep Space Network support, and Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations," and The University of California at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory provided science instruments for the mission.

More importantly, David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said: "The team overcame every challenge it encountered and still kept MAVEN on schedule and on budget. The government, industry, and university partnership was determined and focused to return to Mars sooner, not later."

To boldly go where no one has gone before
When it comes to defense contractors, no one is bigger than Lockheed in terms of defense revenue -- in its third-quarter 2013 report, Lockheed's backlog was $78.7 billion. However, Lockheed doesn't exactly have a reputation for being on time or on budget when it comes to defense contracts: Two prime examples are the F-35 and the Littoral Combat Ship. Therefore, news that the MAVEN came in on time, and on budget, is welcome news for Lockheed -- especially since NASA wants to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s. Consequently, this is something investors should watch.

Investing in companies that specialize in robots isn't the only way to become rich
Dividend stocks, like Lockheed, can make you rich. It's as simple as that. While they don't garner the notability of high-flying growth stocks, they're also less likely to crash and burn. And over the long term, the compounding effect of the quarterly payouts, as well as their growth, adds up faster than most investors imagine. With this in mind, our analysts sat down to identify the absolute best of the best when it comes to rock-solid dividend stocks, drawing up a list in this free report of nine that fit the bill. To discover the identities of these companies before the rest of the market catches on, you can download this valuable free report by simply clicking here now.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2740712, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/23/2014 4:09:57 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement