Ordinarily, I would not come right back so quickly and tell you to take a look at another aerospace stock. But that’s exactly what I’m doing today.
And for a very good reason. See, just last week, NASA made another historic landing on the surface of Mars.
After a journey that took seven months and covered 301 million miles, the NASA Insight lander touched down and got right to work by beaming down a picture of the red planet.
That photograph is only the beginning. The robotic craft will spend the next two years gathering and transmitting important data back to Earth.
Doing so will reap insight about the geography and history of the planet. It will help scientists better understand the planet’s long-term climate, and why water no longer exists on the surface there.
It’s fascinating work. But there’s more happening here than simply compiling and analyzing enormous swaths of planetary data, much more.
That’s why today, I want to let you know about the big-cap aerospace leader that played a pivotal role in Insight’s successful landing. And why this firm is poised for long-term appreciation…
The Mars Fascination
It’s almost impossible to overstate man’s fascination with Mars. It literally dates back thousands of years. Egyptian astronomers wrote about Mars hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, as did the ancient Chinese.
In the more modern era, science fiction writers have popularized it in thousands of books, articles, TV shows and movies.
Indeed, the 2015 movie The Martian, about an astronaut who gets stranded on the planet but finds a way back to Earth, was a critical success. It earned a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Of course, there’s no risk of an astronaut being trapped on Mars – at least not yet. We all know that Elon Musk of SpaceX fame wants to travel to the Red Planet. Musk even recently said he’d love to try living there for a while.
But as I like to tell my daughters when they get all wound up, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Mars’ “Thorough Checkup”
NASA’s InSight program is deeply rooted in science fact. It’s all about discovering more about a planet that may tell us much about the creation of the solar system, and shed light on what we can expect here on Earth as our planet ages.
Though other probes have landed on Mars before, NASA notes this is the first time the planet has received a “thorough checkup” since it formed 4.5 billion years ago.
The space science agency says this is the first outer-space robotic explorer to study in-depth the “inner space” or geology of Mars, including its crust, mantle, and core.
Equipped with a six-foot robotic arm, the lander uses cutting edge instruments to drill deep beneath the surface. In turn, the arm will deploy a heat flow probe that will burrow 16 feet into the ground. That’s deeper than any instrument that has ever been to Mars has gone.
Add it all up and you can see that this is quite a technical achievement, one that speaks volumes about the quality of the company that played a big role in building the InSight lander.
Leading the Journey to the Final Frontier
And that’s why I continue to recommend Lockheed Martin Inc. (NYSE:LMT).
This firm was responsible for building all three components to the spacecraft, including the cruising stage, the heat-absorbing shell and the lander.
The $1 billion rocket ship brought together a range of the firm’s deep knowledge of space travel. Lockheed Martin is what’s known as a Prime Contractor on this mission, overseeing the whole project that also received support from smaller defense suppliers.
The team of engineers at Lockheed Martin Space’s mission support area in Littleton, Colorado, worked for several years to bring the project together, and oversaw the rocket ship’s progress during its half-year journey.
The last part of the journey was surely a nail-biter, calling for a rapid slowdown as it descended through the Martian atmosphere.
“The InSight lander is a remarkable spacecraft. Through the entire entry, descent and landing it performed flawlessly,” said Stu Spath, InSight program manager and director of Deep Space Exploration at Lockheed Martin Space.
Lockheed Martin has a long history here. The firm has partnered with NASA and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for more than four decades in the exploration of the surface of Mars.
In fact, since playing a pivotal role back in 1976, with the fabled Viking missions, Lockheed Martin has gone on to be the Prime Contractor in eleven different Mars missions.
Lockheed’s Other Space Roles
Mars is just one area in which Lockheed Martin plays a role in space. The firm builds satellites, gives early warnings of severe weather, connects troops on the battlefield, and delivers Global Positioning Systems (GPS) directions to a billion people worldwide.
We’ve come to rely on GPS to figure out where we are on the planet, and Lockheed Martin is now giving this technology a major upgrade.
The firm is launching its GPS III this year, which will deliver improved safety, signal strength and stunning levels of accuracy. The U.S. military is already drawing up plans to take advantage of this pinpoint geo-location technology.
Also, Lockheed Martin has proven adept at building industry alliances when necessary. It has formed a joint venture (JV) with Boeing, called the United Launch Alliance (ULA). The JV provides “spacecraft launch services to the United States government.”
Today, Lockheed Martin’s space division generates around $10 billion in sales, and should see strong growth in the years ahead.
Don’t forget, Lockheed Martin works arm-in-arm with the nation’s leading independent provider of rocket propulsion systems. These firms are helping to usher in the era of Hypersonic flight.
And surprisingly, there’s one tiny Alabama defense tech company that’s at the center of this revolutionary technology – one that helped InSight reach its destination.
This firm is at the ground floor of an entirely new opportunity, not to mention that it holds the keys to an estimated $67.6 billion in potential contracts and a 3,877% stock explosion.
A Defense leader
Of course, Lockheed Martin is also a leader in so many other areas of defense tech. The firm derives more than $50 billion in yearly sales from four key areas: Global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies.
The advanced F35 fighter jet, Lockheed’s most important program, hosts all of the firm’s most advanced technologies.
The 5th Generation fighter combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information and network-enabled operations. And it’s not just used by the Air Force. It’s also a popular choice for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, as well as 10 other countries around the world.
These planes are so advanced compared to anything else flying in the world that demand is surging from 90 planes this year to around 130 per year within the next few years.
And the sprawling giant operates a range of smaller divisions focused on Sikorsky military and commercial helicopters, naval systems, platform integration, simulation and training.
Here’s the thing about all of those irons in the fire… They position Lockheed Martin to become a profit powerhouse.
While the firm had $7.1 billion in operating income last year, that figure is expected to surge to $10 billion by 2020.
Built for the Long Haul
I can think of no better firm that is positioned to profit from the new era of long-distance space travel. And even beyond this exciting division, Lockheed Martin has multiple revenue streams that we can count on for years to come.
As earnings are poised to grow at a 10% yearly clip over the next three years, I’m looking for 45% gains in the next half decade.
See you back here soon.