Lockheed Martin is a major US aerospace company formed from the 1995 merger of Lockheed and Martin-Marietta. Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin employs about 135,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products and services. It is the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier.
The company traces its roots to 1909, when aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin (1886-1955) organized a modest airplane construction business. The Martin company later developed the Vanguard rocket, which launched several early US satellites and the Titan I missile – the forerunner of the Titan family of space launch vehicles. Martin merged with the American Marietta Corporation in 1961 to form Martin-Marietta, which was chosen to develop the Titan II (used to launch Gemini and the Titan III, the Viking Mars landers/orbiters, the propulsion system for Voyager, the Space Shuttle External Tank, and the Manned Maneuvering Unit. In 1994, Martin-Marietta took over the Space Systems Division of General Dynamics, the manufacturer of the Atlas and Centaur families of launch vehicles, before itself becoming part of Lockheed Martin as the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Systems Company a year later.
On August 31, 2006, NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a five-year, $3.9-billion to design and build the Orion spacecraft, which will carry humans into orbit and to the Moon after the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010. This will be the first time that Lockheed has been given a lead role in manned spaceflight. It comes after the company failed in a 1996 attempt to design the X-33 space plane, which was to be a replacement for the quarter-century-old Shuttle fleet but was abandoned because of technical problems after NASA spent more than $900 million on it.