Cantwell Tours Local Spokane Company Helping NASA Astronauts Return to the Moon and Beyond

41 companies in Washington state contribute to the NASA Artemis Program, Hi-Rel is currently the only supplier in Eastern Washington

SPOKANE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) toured Hi-Rel Labs, a Spokane-based micro-electronics testing company helping NASA astronauts return to the Moon, and eventually onward to Mars as part of the Artemis Program. Hi-Rel is one of 41 NASA Artemis suppliers in Washington state, and is currently the only supplier in Eastern Washington. As chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. Cantwell oversees NASA, and fought to include the first new NASA Authorization since 2017 in her landmark CHIPS & Science Act, enshrining the NASA Artemis missions in U.S. law.

“There’s 150,000 people in our state that work in the aerospace supply chain and this company is an example of that,” said Sen Cantwell at Hi-Rel. “The Spokane-Coeur d'Alene corridor is a great example of a microcosm of that supply chain and we want to grow that capacity because there’s a lot in the next level of innovation and we think some of that could happen right here.”

*PHOTOS and VIDEO of the tour linked are available for use*

Earlier this month, Sen. Cantwell hosted a Washington state space summit with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. At the event, Sen. Cantwell discussed how the Washington state space industry has more than doubled in four years and supports more than 13,000 jobs, creating $4.6 billion in economic activity.

Following the tour, Sen. Cantwell discussed the importance of semiconductor testing, adding: “This lab here in Spokane is doing that work and one of the next missions for our nation is to return to the Moon in preparation for going to Mars. 

In 2021, Sen. Cantwell spearheaded passage of the CHIPS & Science Act, one of the largest five-year federal research and development investments in U.S. history. The CHIPS & Science Act also authorized $13 billion for STEM education funding at the National Science Foundation (NSF), to grow the STEM workforce and increase participation of women and other groups underrepresented in STEM fields.

Two women from Washington state, NASA astronauts Kayla Barron of Richland and Anne McClain of Spokane, are under consideration for the Artemis III crew that will return Americans to the surface of the Moon for the first time in over 50 years. Sen. Cantwell joined Anne McClain on a panel discussion last year at the Spokesman-Review’s 2022 Inland Woman of the Year event. In December 2022, Sen. Cantwell met with Kayla Barron in Washington, D.C. to discuss the importance of funding the NASA Authorization in the CHIPS & Science Act of 2022.

Read more about Washington state’s space economy and Sen. Cantwell’s actions here.