Artemis Blasts Off Toward the Moon – With Contributions from 42 WA Companies and Funding Spearheaded by Cantwell

Cantwell has long supported Artemis, which aims to land the first woman and person of color on the Moon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, NASA’s Artemis I mission successfully launched from Kennedy Space Center. This is the first uncrewed test flight of the Artemis program, which is designed to return humans on the Moon and prepare for human exploration of Mars. It is also the first flight of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, led by Boeing, and the second spaceflight of the Orion crew capsule, led by Lockheed Martin.

Orion, which is intended to carry astronauts, will travel to within about 60 miles of the Moon’s surface, then travel thousands of miles beyond the Moon, using the Moon’s gravity to help propel the craft back to Earth. The craft is expected to make a safe, precision landing off the coast of Baja, California on December 11th.

“Today’s launch lays the groundwork for landing a woman and a person of color on the Moon for the first time in history,” said Senator Cantwell. “It also shows that Washington state remains an aerospace industry leader, with workers at 42 companies from seven different counties contributing components for the Artemis missions. Today’s success is key to inspiring the next generation of STEM workers and to maintaining U.S. leadership in space, which is why we fought to authorize NASA and Artemis in the recently passed CHIPS & Science Act.”

Washington contributes significantly to the Artemis program, with 42 companies providing components either for Artemis I or for later Artemis missions including: General Dynamics in Bothell, Aerojet Rocketdyne in Redmond, Blue Origin in Kent, and Toray Composites Material in Tacoma. A full list of Washington companies supporting the Artemis program is available HERE.

NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Anne McClain, both Washington natives, are among the 18 people under consideration to go the Moon.

In November 2019, Senator Cantwell co-sponsored the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2020, which aimed to recognize the Artemis missions in U.S. law for the first time. To provide certainty and stability for the program, language authorizing the Artemis missions and requiring NASA to establish stringent oversight requirements was eventually incorporated into the CHIPS & Science Act, which Cantwell spearheaded through Congress. The CHIPS & Science Act was signed into law on August 9, 2022. 

The CHIPS & Science Act also authorizes an unprecedented $13 billion in STEM education funding at the National Science Foundation (NSF), representing a tripling of NSF’s annual STEM education budget. Nearly $2 billion is authorized to go to minority-serving institutions and other emerging research institutions around the country with a proven track record of helping grow a diverse workforce.