Going Beyond

Human Space Flight and Inspiring a New Generation of Space Explorers and Visionaries


To be human is to explore. Iconic space programs such as Apollo and the space shuttle have taken people beyond Earth’s gravity and propelled humanity toward the stars, captivating generations, expanding scientific knowledge and triggering technological advances on Earth.

The capabilities we’ve pioneered have led to startling advancements in diverse areas such as communications, transportation, climate studies, national security, economics, medicine, learning and so many more. They have also brought the world closer together.

We are now developing advanced capabilities to usher in a new era of human space exploration. Humans will travel deeper into space, where greater discoveries await and where future generations will be inspired. 

Speaking of the Future: Scientific Discovery

The Benefits of Human Space Flight
One person with a connection to both the Apollo and space shuttle programs is Rick Hieb, vice president of exploration and mission support programs at Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems and Global Solutions business. The Apollo program inspired Hieb to become a NASA astronaut, where he flew three space shuttle missions.

According to Hieb, human space flight is critical for enhancing knowledge and sparking innovations leading to technological breakthroughs that impact life on Earth. For him, the Space Lab work he engaged in during space shuttle missions serves as a good illustration of how space efforts translate to human benefits.

“If there’s something that’s changed your life from a space shuttle mission, it’s almost certainly because of something we did on the Space Lab,” said Hieb. “That’s where science was being done, whether it was medical, physics, material science; that is where the science was being done to allow us to make the next advances.”

Beyond the space shuttle program, a wide range of scientific, space-based research continues today aboard the International Space Station, an orbiting laboratory that enables studies on human health, life and physical science, Earth and space science and future exploration.  

1_Power On CM 1

Technicians power on the Orion crew module at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Orion – the next generation of human space exploration
With the space shuttle program retired, NASA is now pursuing the next-generation of human space exploration – the Orion program.

The Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle, being developed for NASA by Lockheed Martin, will carry astronauts farther, beyond low-Earth orbit, to various destinations, such as asteroids, the Moon and Mars.

Just as Apollo rose to iconic cultural status, officials involved with Orion say the program holds the same potential to define and energize a generation.

“The Orion program will take astronauts deeper into space, to destinations human beings have never been before,” said Mark Geyer, NASA’s Orion program manager. “Orion has the power to re-invigorate a new generation with excitement over the prospect of human deep space travel. It can also serve as the catalyst to attract tomorrow’s space explorers, engineers and researchers.”

For Cleon Lacefield, Orion program manager at Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems business, partnering with NASA to make that vision a reality is a personally rewarding experience and career highlight.

“It is an incredible privilege to be associated with the Orion program and to be able to support NASA’s vision to take people deeper into space, to places we’ve yet to go, to learn things we’ve yet to discover,” said Lacefield. “The passion we put into this program is a manifestation of humanity’s enduring drive to explore and to chase the horizon. I can’t wait to see where Orion will take us one day and how future missions will grow our capacity to explore even deeper.”

The concept of Orion serving as the means to take humankind deeper and farther, leading ultimately to still greater possibilities and destinations, is one Hieb embraces.

“My view of humankind is that Earth isn’t the only place for us,” said Hieb. “We are going to continue to take humankind beyond Earth to Mars, leave the solar system and continue to spread humankind across the galaxy. You’ve got to start with that one little step.”

Dreaming Big

Young astronaut hopefuls, renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lockheed Martin engineers who are building our nation's new Orion spacecraft all share their perspectives on the importance of exploring our universe.

April 14, 2014