Small businesses across the country are building a path forward to the Moon with Orion
From the cleanrooms in mountainous Colorado to the assembly buildings of the Space Coast, Lockheed Martin’s team of 2,900 suppliers have helped pave the way to send the first woman and next man to the Moon on Orion.
A prominent, but unexpected player in the lineup?
For every dollar invested on Orion by NASA, Lockheed Martin spends $0.50 purchasing from our supply chain. Nearly half of Orion suppliers are small businesses, with over $1.78B awarded to those companies nationwide.
Bettering the community and beyond
One of those small businesses is Red Canyon Engineering & Software (Red Canyon), a HUBZone certified and service-disabled, veteran-owned small business headquartered in Denver. CEO and Founder, Barry Hamilton, started the company in 2000 with a small team and has grown the company to about 60 employees today. When we approached Hamilton in 2005 with the opportunity for his company to work on Orion, he was thrilled.
“As a child, Apollo was imprinted on my brain. Working on something that’s going back to the Moon is a dream come true for me,” said Hamilton.
Over the years, Red Canyon has contributed to many Orion efforts, including the launch abort system (LAS), assembly test and launch operations (ATLO), and mechanical design and analysis.
Although Red Canyon’s Orion work focuses outside planet Earth, the company has taken impressive strides to better its backyard, too. As a certified participant of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) HUBZone program, Red Canyon is helping to fuel economic growth and rejuvenation in historically underutilized low-income neighborhoods. Both Red Canyon’s Denver and Titusville, Florida, offices are located within a HUBZone. Their dedication to this mission has led to HUBZone property acquisitions — like a 1920s era hotel and bank in Titusville pictured below — where Red Canyon fixes up a property before renting to employees and locals.
Continuing growth through Orion
Another Orion supplier, All Points Logistics LLC, is one of the nation’s largest service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses. The company, which was founded in 1997, is headquartered in Merritt Island, Florida, while its 400+ employees are spread throughout the country at various locations including Denver, Houston and Huntsville, Alabama.
All Points has been working with us on Orion since 2013, delivering capabilities including flight and ground software design, development and testing, as well as other engineering work.
All Points Vice President and General Manager, Kevin Repa, says working on Orion has given the company the ability to make key investments in the company’s growth, as well as build its reputation as a flight and simulation software company for other potential customers.
“We’ve used Orion as our past performance inputs on multiple successful proposals. It adds a sense of credibility and shows we know what we’re doing and can deliver,” Repa said.
Red Canyon’s Hamilton echoed this thought, saying his team’s work on Orion has served as a strong foundation for Red Canyon over the years, and also enabled the company to grow its skillsets to pursue other NASA contracts.
“Working on Orion allowed us to expand outside software to a full-service aerospace engineering firm, including mechanical design and stress analysis,” said Hamilton. “We wouldn’t be here without Lockheed Martin.”
Connecting to the larger mission
Being part of the Artemis team has also played a large part in ISYS Technologies’ successful growth within the aerospace industry. ISYS, which is a woman-owned small business headquartered in Littleton, Colorado, has around 160 employees and has been an Orion supplier since the initial proposal phase.
“The support we’ve provided on Orion has helped us grow our knowledge base and win other prime contracts,” said Frank Toney, ISYS business unit director.
ISYS performs a variety of engineering services on Orion, including software development, guidance and navigation control and more. Toney says working on Orion has been mutually beneficial to the team and even helps with employee retention.
“It’s been very important to us as a small business to have that forecasted stability [from Orion],” he said.
On top of that, Toney says it’s been extremely rewarding working on Orion, both for the company’s growth and for the employees connected to the larger mission of returning humans to the Moon.
“Outside of work, folks ask what you do, and when you can say you’re playing a small part in sending humans back to the Moon and deep space, it’s a pretty neat thing,” said Toney.