SLS and Orion: The Artemis Generation’s Apollo

Comprised of a new era of explorers, supporters and enthusiasts, the Artemis Generation will experience humanity’s next giant leap as we establish a sustainable lunar presence and push the boundaries of human exploration to Mars.

Tech savvy, diverse, and driven to write the next great chapter of exploration, the Artemis Generation is set to bring America back to the Moon, and this time, to stay.

Comprised of a new era of explorers, supporters and enthusiasts, the Artemis Generation will experience humanity’s next giant leap as we establish a sustainable lunar presence and push the boundaries of human exploration to Mars.

Last July marked half a century since the historic “first step” was made by Neil Armstrong on the surface of the Moon. That feat of American exceptionalism was witnessed by countless millions around the globe and is celebrated to this day as one of humankind’s greatest technological achievements. Those first steps in 1969 were made possible by a 363-foot-tall American icon: the Saturn V launch vehicle. On that vehicle, NASA launched the hopes of millions of Americans, tied together by a giant leap in innovation. Three short days later, those hopes landed on the surface of the Moon in the Eagle lunar module along with Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

While America’s next generation of human spaceflight may not be dominating current headlines, 2021 will bring about a season of change. NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which is the most powerful rocket ever built, will have its inaugural launch next year. With the accompanying Orion spacecraft, SLS will help reestablish America’s preeminence in human space exploration once again. SLS is the only rocket that can send astronauts and large cargo to the Moon on a single mission. The 384-foot-tall marvel of innovation, accompanied by the state-of-the-art Orion spacecraft, will provide Americans the opportunity to once again dream big and join together in a shared goal of achieving a once-thought impossible feat.

As it often does, history is repeating itself once again. A beacon of hope and symbols of persistence, the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft are the Saturn V and Eagle lander of the Artemis Generation. In order to ensure this next generation of space exploration and scientific advancements becomes a reality, we need to maintain and grow congressional support of these critical programs. The SLS and Orion supplier base – over 3,800 companies strong, representing all 50 states – is helping populate pockets of innovation in localities across our nation.

Hundreds of those small businesses and companies will be in Washington Feb. 12-13 for the annual SLS/Orion Suppliers Conference on Capitol Hill. These small, quite often family-owned, companies are the bedrock for true innovation and inspiration behind some of today’s most disruptive technologies.

Frontier Electronic Systems Corp., headquartered in Stillwater, Okla,, employs 140 of Oklahoma’s finest engineers, and technicians in support of SLS and Orion. The woman-owned, Native American heritage company provides engineering design, systems integration, test, and manufacturing support for aerospace and defense electronic systems. Frontier is a subcontractor to various companies – including Boeing and Lockheed Martin – to build and test integrated electronic systems on the SLS and Orion programs. These systems include the propulsion, steering and engine controllers for the SLS core stage, and power management and vehicle controller systems on the Orion spacecraft.

“The road to the Moon, Mars and beyond runs through Stillwater Oklahoma,” said Brenda Rolls, Frontier’s president and CEO. “Tom Stafford’s Apollo legacy shines brightly in Oklahoma, and the Frontier Team is committed to carrying his legacy forward with Artemis’ precision landing of the first woman on the Moon.”

Frontier is a small business with a tremendous success story. Daughter of the original company founders, Brenda Rolls is continuing her parents’ legacy of creating a positive impact for the local community while supplying significant technological support for America’s aerospace industry. Frontier’s is just one story of thousands that demonstrates the tangible impact congressional support for SLS and Orion can have on American businesses across the country.

SLS and Orion are not just a beacon of hope for the next generation of space enthusiasts, but a tangible opportunity for the U.S. to maintain our leadership and competitive edge in space exploration. Future innovations resulting from SLS and Orion missions will not only open doors for deeper exploration into our solar system, but will also have practical applications here on Earth. There have been many steps over the years since Armstrong’s historic walk, and SLS and Orion will enable countless similar walks on Mars and other deep space destinations for years to come.

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