Mission is critical to return humans to the Moon and is a stepping stone to Mars
Colorado aerospace companies played central role
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Science, celebrated the successful launch of NASA’s Artemis I mission. The rocket lifted off today at 1:47 am ET from the historic Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
“We have lift-off! NASA’s Artemis is ushering in a new era of space exploration” said Hickenlooper. “The Apollo program inspired an entire generation. Thanks to Colorado’s aerospace companies, Artemis is on its way to do the same.”
Artemis I is the first in a series of missions to return humans – including the first woman and person of color – to the Moon for the first time in fifty years, enable new scientific research, and provide a foundation for deep space exploration missions to Mars and beyond. Today’s launch consists of the uncrewed Orion spacecraft, the only spacecraft designed to carry humans into deep space and back, flying on the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built by NASA. While collecting critical mission data, Orion will travel 280,000 miles from Earth over several weeks and orbit the Moon before returning to Earth.
Many Colorado-based companies contributed to the Artemis I mission, including 239 suppliers and subcontractors that contributed to the Orion spacecraft and 11 suppliers and subcontractors from Colorado that assisted with SLS. Notable partnerships include:
- Lockheed Martin Space (Littleton): Designed and built the Orion spacecraft, with Denver Business Journal naming the Orion spacecraft “Colorado-born”
- United Launch Alliance (Centennial): Partnered with Boeing to supply the upper stage booster for SLS. The upper stage booster will be used during the first three Artemis missions to propel the Orion spacecraft out of Earth’s orbit and beyond the Moon
- Maxar Technologies (Westminster): Was selected to provide the Power and Propulsion Element for the lunar Gateway, which will deliver hardware and services to provide power, navigation control, and communication in future Artemis missions
- Honeybee Robotics (Longmont): Was awarded $7 million by NASA to develop vertical solar arrays that can be used during future Artemis missions to power equipment on the lunar surface
After completing its mission, the Orion spacecraft is expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.
Chairman Hickenlooper also served on the Conference Committee to author and pass the historic CHIPS & Science Act, which included the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2022 to guide NASA’s execution of the upcoming Artemis missions.