The Mission Shooting for the Stars

ASRC Federal Provides Top Level Support for Orion, Moon Quest

Orion Launch Abort Preparations at Launch Complex 46 _ Photo Credit NASA and ASRC Federal Tony Gray

Ask Lloyd Gregg or Pedro Medelius any question these days, and their answer is likely to rotate entirely on this premise, and without apology:

To land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.

The job is big, actually HUGE.
Gregg and Medelius, respectively, are vice president/general manager and chief technologist/chief scientist at ASRC Federal. With a presence in Brevard County since early 2000s, ASRC Federal companies support a wide range of NASA missions and centers, including NASA’s Orion program as a major subcontractor for Lockheed Martin.

With continued expansion and investment, ASRC Federal is active on a number of significant contracts with NASA at Kennedy Space Center and the U.S. Air Force at Cape Canaveral. In July, a new office was opened in Merritt Island. Across its family of companies, ASRC Federal employs more than 600 highly skilled workers on the Space Coast.

MOON SHOT ON THE WAY TO MARS

Even with all these projects, the NASA spacecraft effort — in the form of the Orion program — is never far from top of mind or tip of tongue. Specifically for Orion, ASRC Federal provides technical services and operational support to human spacecraft assembly, testing, integration and production, which occurs primarily in the Operations & Checkout facility at Kennedy Space Center. This includes orbital arc welding, optics/alignment support, thermal blanket/barrier fabrication and thermal system installation, flight cable fabrication, electrical ground support equipment fabrication, test engineering, mission operations, ground operations and manufacturing engineering.

ALL WITH ONE GOAL.

“There is significant energy to return to the moon and continue onto Mars!” said Gregg,

who has worked more than 30 years in the space industry in positions ranging from systems engineering and human space operations to project management.

“… For the first time, the entire crew will descend to the lunar surface. Unlike Apollo that required an astronaut to control the command module in orbit, rion is autonomous enough to operate independently of human control. Also, we will for the first time be able to land anywhere on the lunar surface and [also for the first time] plan on establishing a lunar colony and having humans inhabit another astronomical body.”

“From a technological standpoint,” Medelius said, “I believe we are ready to go back to the moon. Humankind has always had the desire to explore and has wanted to answer the question of what lies beyond what we currently see and understand. We did it back in the 1960s when we went to the moon, and we can do it again.”

But how?

PARTNERSHIP, FUNDING & HIGHLY SKILLED LABOR

Getting back to the moon by 2024 will require a continued partnership between government and industry, as well as continued funding for NASA to accelerate production of needed hardware and infrastructure, said Gregg.

Training will also be a critical component, he said, noting that the human capital (qualified workers) needed to perform the feat requires the continued development of a highly skilled workforce, such as an Orion apprentice program in place between ASRC Federal and Eastern Florida State College.

This program attracts students in the college’s Aerospace Technology program, trains them and pays their part-time salaries with the goal of creating a talent pipeline. ASRC Federal also assists in many school sciences events, robotic competitions and related activities.
There is a sense of urgency, which has brought a commitment from the top tiers of US government: the effort has been deemed mission-essential by the federal government. According to Gregg, even during the pandemic, workers haven’t missed a beat — while, of course, complying with safety protocols and recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The [employee] dedication to this mission is evident every day as they step into the ‘factory floor’ to bring our country one step closer to the next major step in space exploration,” Gregg said.

Explore to Advance

Medelius, who has more than 30 U.S. patents and nearly 30 international patents to his credit during his 30-plus years in the industry, pointed to know-how and sheer will.
“Similar to what happened at the beginning of air travel close to 100 years ago, the technology has matured enough for private-sector companies to be able to invest for the long term,” he said.

“It is hard to pinpoint a single driver for our success in the space industry, other than our continued desire to explore and advance. A combination of better materials, new process, more efficient propulsion systems, electronics, artificial intelligence, autonomous operations and others has enabled significant progress over the past several decades.

As the calendar moves closer towards launch time, moving forward means no turning back, Medelius concluded.

“There will always be a risk associated with any endeavor,” he said.

“But we must be willing to accept it and continue to explore in order to advance our understanding of our solar system, our galaxy and the universe.”

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ASRC Federal Holding Company is the government services subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, an Alaska Native Corporation owned by approximately 13,000 Iñupiat shareholders. For more information, visit online at www.asrcfederal.com.

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