The Artemis missions and the Space Launch System (SLS) are propelled by a team united in one goal: safely returning humanity to deep space.
Every day at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, our engineers and technicians support SLS launch preparations with NASA and a cross-industry team.
At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, our teams are building Core Stages 2 – 4 with support from across the country.
Build The Future
Patriot Machine photo
Fittings built by Missouri’s Patriot Machine connect the SLS rocket’s powerful solid rocket boosters (SRB) to the core stage – even as they produce 3.6 million pounds (1.6 million kilograms) of thrust at launch. The fittings are incorporated at either side of the intertank thrust structure, allowing the SRBs to be mounted onto the barrel’s exterior.
“The criticality of these massive parts requires tight tolerances, so Boeing turned to us,” said Bob Burns, Patriot Machine vice president. “We specialize in developing robust manufacturing methods for machining complex stainless steel components like the SRB fittings, as well as complex titanium and aluminum parts.”
Patriot Machine’s cutting-edge technology includes the use of computer numerical control machines capable of highly accurate machining with minimal setups.
The SRB fittings were also part of the structure used to hold down the core stage in its test stand during hot fire testing in early 2021.
UHI and NASA photosUHI photo
Ultimate Hydroforming Inc. (UHI Group) is a 100% woman-owned business started in 1979 by President and CEO Shirley Klyn that now boasts a 10-plant campus in Sterling Heights, Michigan. UHI produces the system tunnel cover assemblies that run nearly the entire length of the SLS core stage.
“We spent three years doing due diligence in the design phase, including virtual forming simulations to ensure production accuracy, long before the actual construction of the cast-iron forming dies was started,” said UHI program manager and mechanical engineer Cesar Nino. “The forming dies produce the system tunnel covers in our 3,800-ton [3,447-metric-ton] mechanical press.”
Nino started with UHI as a college intern from the University of Michigan and now runs the SLS project, working to enhance UHI’s product for each follow-on core stage by simplifying processes and strengthening the tunnel cover.
Wildwood Electronics photo
Situated among farmers’ fields on the outskirts of Madison, Alabama, woman-owned Wildwood Electronics has consistently supported space exploration and the Department of Defense since it was founded in 1983.
Starting as a small electronics manufacturing company in a rented building in downtown Huntsville, Wildwood has since grown to provide components to Boeing for SLS as well as the International Space Station and the Boeing Starliner spacecraft.
Wildwood provided critical electronics used to test the core stage and upper stage before integration at Kennedy Space Center.
“The SLS will put astronauts back on the Moon, and we’re proud to be part of that effort,” said Becky Owens, Wildwood president.
D-J Engineering photo
Collaboration with NASA and a key supplier in Kansas helped Boeing engineers meet the challenge of restraining 2.7 million pounds (1.2 million kilograms) of rocket hardware activated by 1.6 million pounds (726,000 kilograms) of thrust at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Boeing partnered with D-J Engineering of Augusta, Kansas, to build the tie-down structure that kept the massive propulsion vehicle in its place as four RS-25 engines ignited to simulate launch.
“Watching the Green Run hot fire test and seeing our hardware stand up to the core stage’s firepower was an amazing eight minutes for our team,” said Ryan Hernandez, Engineering vice president for D-J.
The tie-down fixtures were mounted on the core stage intertank, where the solid rocket boosters, or SRBs, are now mounted for launch.
Tooling to support building the SLS intertank was provided by Futuramic, a small Michigan business that once drove innovation in the auto industry.
The intertank’s final assembly jig is one of the few tools saved and repurposed from the space shuttle to SLS. Futuramic has also supplied drill jigs, thrust beam assembly tooling and structural flight hardware used by NASA and Boeing in the intertank assembly.
The intertank is built extra strong because it is a connection point for the rocket’s twin solid rocket boosters as well as the connector for the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks. It is bolted together, not welded, with ribs on the outside.
“Futuramic is a full-service, design-to-install company, small enough to offer personal service but large enough to meet the demanding requirements of the aerospace industry,” said Mark Jurcak, Futuramic president.
Frontier Electronic Systems photo
A company owned and operated by family since 1973, Frontier Electronic Systems (FES) brought aerospace jobs to Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Today, the area’s next generation of engineers is designing and building the flight hardware that will steer SLS rockets and Orion spacecraft to the Moon and Mars.
FES produces the auxiliary power unit controller for the rocket’s RS-25 engines and power distribution control modules for Orion. Those modules will ensure that the rocket remains on the right trajectory on its way to orbit, as well as control life support systems for crewed missions. The work includes circuit card assemblies, crew controls, power assemblies and avionics.
“By delivering cost-effective engineering designs and highly reliable advanced avionics and electromechanical assemblies, FES is proud to make a difference,” said Dr. Brenda Rolls, FES president and CEO.