Lockheed Martin opens new lab in Palo Alto

Defense and space contractor Lockheed Martin opened a new research facility in Silicon Valley, despite a major layoff last year.
March 25, 2014 6:50:15 PM PDT
Defense and space contractor Lockheed Martin is continuing to invest in a new research facility in Silicon Valley, even though it went through a major layoff late last year. The new Palo Alto center was dedicated on Tuesday. ABC7 News got a rare look inside the labs.

About the only thing low-tech about the new research lab is the way it was dedicated with a ribbon cutting. It replaces three vintage buildings built almost 60 years ago when Stanford set land aside for a research park to attract private companies to collaborate with academic researchers. There will be 130 engineers and scientists, along with support staff, consolidated under one roof -- in a building so energy efficient, it will save Lockheed Martin $1 million a year.

"It's no secret that Silicon Valley is sort of the innovation center of the world, so it's very important that we're here because we have some key talent at the Advanced Technology Center. We intend to retain that talent, and we intend to attract more talent, which is why having this new facility is so important to us," said Ken Washington, the Advanced Technology Center vice president.

The Advanced Technology Center, or ATC, continues to focus on technology for space projects that are lighter, cheaper and faster to make, and high-performance.

Lockheed Martin Scientist Slade Gardner, Ph.D., shows us a prime example -- thermo-plastic nano-composite clips used on spacecraft, developed to replace ones made from aluminum.

"This particular aluminum part takes 28 days to get through the machine and finishing operation. We made 300 APEX parts in one working day at approximately one-tenth of the cost," said Gardner.

The development of a titanium propellant tank, designed for high-pressure, might someday have use in the oil and gas pipeline industry.

The facility is designed to encourage separate teams to collaborate together.

Palo Alto Mayor Nancy Shepard says more companies are tearing down old facilities in favor of energy efficient ones for good reason. She told us, "You either write a check for your power, or you get to have more money to do what you want to do, and I think that companies have realized and learned that they would like to invest in research."

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