Over 40 key suppliers supporting NASA’s initiative for human deep-space exploration gathered in Washington, D.C. on March 24 and 25 to collectively establish and deliver to congressional members the program’s key messages and value proposition.  The ORION spacecraft will be powered by the Space Launch System (SLS) lift vehicle which will enable travel more than 5,000,000km beyond Earth’s surface; 10,000 times further than the International Space Station orbital position.  SLS and ORION are considered enabling to NASA’s planned manned-Mars missions.  The conference was organized and led by the prime contractors for the SLS and the ORION spacecraft; Lockheed Martin, Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne, Boeing and ATK.   FMI attendance was requested as the supplier of propulsion components for the flight critical Launch Abort System (LAS) Attitude Control Motor (ACM).

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The key messages and value proposition derived from the conference included:

–          United States must sustain global leadership in space exploration and travel

–          Continue the country’s tradition to push the boundaries of exploration

–          Utilize the leadership position to continue to drive science technology and innovation

–          Inspire the next generation to careers in science, technology, engineering and manufacturing

–          Deliver economic benefit by investing in industry and developing a highly skilled workforce

–          Further enable commercial  exploration opportunities

The benefits of the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs are acknowledged as stimulators of technology and economic benefit that has influenced our daily lives.  SLS and ORION will provide the same benefits in the future.

FMI employees attending the conference took the opportunity to visit and review the program with the Maine congressional delegation; Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Representatives Chellie Pingree and Michael Michaud.   Each office eagerly engaged in the discussion of opportunity the program offers to sustain the country’s leadership position and the benefits the investment provides.

NASA’s current budget proposal will fully support the level SLS and ORION suppliers consider adequate to sustain enable future deep-space exploration.