On Tuesday, Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), long known for its work in aerospace and defense contracting, announced a venture in an entirely different direction, as it tries "leveraging its expertise in the manufacture of Space Shuttle external tanks to meet the rapidly growing demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanks for storage and transportation."

In a press release, Lockheed said it will begin manufacturing cryogenic fuel tanks for LNG-powered vessels in Louisiana. In addition to fuel tanks, the company says it will "adapt production equipment used to manufacture the external tank for the Space Shuttle" and begin producing for civilian use a variety of equipment useful for "propellant handling; assembly, test and integration; composites manufacturing; and production facility and tooling design."

Lockheed will be looking up and down the LNG supply chain, and considering entry into the markets for LNG storage and transportation, as well as for vehicle fuel tanks. Actual sales contracts were not announced in the press release, nor did Lockheed lay out a specific timetable for starting up operations in its new field of business.

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