NASA’s history-making Artemis I mission has extensive ties to Colorado’s aerospace industry – Greeley Tribune

After several delays, a space mission with extensive connections to Colorado and what is the first voyage in humans’ return to the Moon took off late Tuesday night.

Kerry Timmons is one of the Lockheed Martin Space employees across the country who spent years designing and building the Orion capsule for NASA’s Artemis I mission. She, her husband and son stayed up late for the launch, which took place around midnight in Denver.

“This is such a moment and it feels so good that all the years, time and energy that have been put into this program are finally paying off,” said Timmons, senior manager for systems engineering design and integration at Lockheed Martin for the Orion project.

The flight is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions aimed at landing the first woman and first black person on the moon by 2025, Timmons said.

Artemis I carries dummies but no human crew. The capsule is scheduled to return to Earth in about 25 days. Timmons said the mission will demonstrate the reentry descent and landing capabilities of the capsule’s heat shield and landing recovery systems.

Artemis II will have a crew of four astronauts who will fly around the moon and perform multiple maneuvers. The mission will be the first time astronauts have traveled beyond the moon in more than 50 years. The launch is planned for 2024.

And NASA plans to land Artemis III on the moon for the first time since the Apollo program of 1969-1972.

The Artemis Mission was named after the goddess of the moon in Greek mythology. Artemis was Apollo’s twin sister.

“Orion is NASA’s only spacecraft ready to launch humans into space,” Timmons said.

Lockheed Martin employees at the company’s Jefferson County campus designed the capsule, built the heat shield and the vehicle’s electronics and avionics. Employees from company locations across the country and in Puerto Rico also participated in the program.

The rocket’s upper stage was designed and built by Centennial-based United Launch Alliance. Lockheed Martin Space spokeswoman Tat’yana Berdan said more than 184 Colorado companies have contributed to the Artemis mission.

While Orion doesn’t have people on board, it does have one well-known passenger: Alexa. Amazon’s virtual assistant is part of a program called Callisto developed by Lockheed Martin, Amazon and Cisco. The program includes Webex video conferencing and voice technology.

Timmons said Callisto will communicate with the spacecraft and ground systems. “It will be a great test and demonstration of how astronauts can communicate with Earth and also live and work in space using the hands-free technology offered by Alexa.”