Developing Next-generation Eyes for Missile Interceptors
SUNNYVALE, Calif., April 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has opened a new state-of-the-art laboratory in Silicon Valley for the development of next-generation seekers that will help the U.S. Missile Defense Agency defend against increasingly complex missile threats.
“The technology we will develop and demonstrate in this laboratory is important because a seeker is the on-board eyes for a missile defense interceptor, and it must perform with perfect ’20/20 vision’ in the final moments before interception,” said Doug Graham, vice president of missile systems and advanced programs, Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “This facility is part of Lockheed Martin’s commitment to research, development and innovation to advance technologies for missile defense.”
Graham and Marshall Case, vice president of infrastructure services for Lockheed Martin Space Systems, hosted an opening ceremony for the new lab in Sunnyvale, California, April 29.
A seeker performs an essential role for a kill vehicle, which is the part of an interceptor that strikes an incoming missile. The seeker locates and tracks the enemy warhead. It sends trajectory data to the on-board guidance system, which steers the kill vehicle to destroy the warhead with force of impact alone to limit effects on the ground. About the size of a loaf of bread, a seeker includes infrared sensors, a telescope and a cryostat to cool the sensors during launch, with sophisticated software algorithms acting as its brains.
All of today’s major U.S. missile defense systems use the hit-to-kill force-of-impact technology pioneered by Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale facility. As the proven world leader in systems integration and development of air and missile defense systems and technologies, Lockheed Martin has developed systems that have achieved more than 100 successful intercepts in combat and flight testing since 1984 – more than any other company.