Sidus Space CEO Carol Craig explains contributions to the Artemis program

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NASA is already preparing for future lunar missions before its first Artemis launch lifts off.

NASA’s mega lunar rocket, Artemis 1, is scheduled for another launch attempt on Wednesday, November 16. The physical construction of the mission provided a business opportunity for dozens of aerospace companies and private contractors supporting the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft.

One such contractor is Sidus Space. The Florida-based company’s hardware is integrated into the SLS, Orion and mobile launch tower that supports the Artemis 1 duo, among other key elements of the Artemis program infrastructure.

Related: Blood Moon rises above the Artemis 1 mega-rocket preparing for launch in stunning photos

Carol Craig is the founder and CEO of Sidus Space, and would be the first female founder and owner of a space company to go public (it would be on the Nasdaq, for stock market watchers).

Space.com recently reached out to the former Navy pilot to learn more about Sidus’ involvement in Artemis, the challenges of starting a woman-owned space business, and the benefits of integrating Sidus’ hardware with that from NASA as the agency seeks to return humans to the moon. .

Carol Craig, Founder and CEO of Sidus Space. (Image credit: Sidus Space)

Space.com: Can you explain what components Artemis Sidus was responsible for and what role they play in the SLS?

Carol Craig: Sidus has been part of the program since the beginning, from the moment NASA transferred the production line from the shuttle to the SLS. We participated in the reconfiguration of systems and facilities that NASA uses to process and launch rockets and spacecraft. But more specifically, we designed, built and tested electrical cabinets and umbilical quick couplers for the mobile launcher that transports the SLS from the hangar to the pad.

We have also fabricated wire harnesses and cables for the Orion spacecraft that will be used to transport crew above the SLS. Additionally, we provided hardware for the SLS core stage and solid rocket boosters, as well as ground support hardware for the Orion spacecraft.

Space.com: As the first female founder of a space company to go public, what pressures, obstacles and rewards has this brought?

Craig: Before making the decision to go public, I looked very carefully at the SPAC option [a special purpose acquisition company created especially for a merger] but in the end I decided that it was not the best model for Sidus. Years of supporting the U.S. government for defense and space efforts resulted in a sense of transparency and a focus on compliance that seemed better suited to the IPO. [initial public offering that brings most companies public via a stock exchange]. My conservative nature also pushed me towards a lower raise [of money from investors] as opposed to the larger SPAC fundraiser. And contrary to what many think, the IPO process was much faster than what I’ve seen with SPAC transactions. The time between the signature of the contract and the IPO was less than 5 months.

The challenge, of course, was managing the process myself as a “quarterback” while managing two companies. But the upside was the deep understanding of the process and ultimately the market we were entering. The payoff is pretty obvious: we were able to raise funds initially and put in place additional fundraising mechanisms as the space ecosystem grows and our business evolves alongside this emerging market.

And as an aside, I had no idea there were so few female founders who had taken their companies public until halfway through the process. Also, I didn’t know I was going to be the first female founded and solely owned to go public with a space venture when I started the effort, but it’s definitely a milestone that will hopefully foster more of diversity in the space market in the future.

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft on board is seen atop the Mobile Launch Vehicle as it rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building to launch Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in the NASA on November 3. (Image credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)

Space.com: What do the Artemis missions mean to you and why are they important?

Craig: To help bring America back to the moon is a great honor. This is the next step for humanity – to establish an outpost beyond Earth’s orbit so we can send people even further into our universe. We have been rooted in this program since its very beginning and understand the mission and the importance of our contributions. The scope of engineering and technology development for Artemis is exciting. We are preparing for a new lunar workforce and an industry previously dreamed of only in science fiction.

Space.com: How did you become interested in the space industry and what motivates you?

Craig: In my early years, I was an avid reader of science fiction by authors such as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. When I was younger, I imagined being able to build my own robot to be my friend. After being medically discharged from the Navy with a knee injury, I continued to develop software as a consultant and incorporated my company. This led me to jobs with NASA and other clients needing assistance with their aerospace programs. I loved living on Florida beaches, which I was exposed to during flight school in Pensacola, so moving my family to one of Florida’s most famous beaches was a no-brainer.

One of the best parts of the past decade and a half has been watching launches through my back door and supporting space missions through our government contracts. I found myself completely engrossed in the ramifications of the success of Artemis, and equally taken with how our team at Sidus continues to invest in space innovations that develop the future of humanity in real time.

The Sidus Space crew at Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Image credit: Sidus Space)

Space.com: What is your next big project and what are you most excited about heading into 2023?

Craig: We are proud to be part of the Collins xEVA team in developing and manufacturing the next generation spacesuits to support the ISS and Artemis, enabling humans to walk and explore the moon. Over the past 10 years, Sidus has manufactured space hardware and participated in all major space projects. We look forward to playing a meaningful role in this exciting opportunity, continuing our tradition of creating new revenue streams through strong partnerships. This work helps launch a new workforce and industry on the surface of the moon.

Apart from the work we outsource to NASA and Artemis support companies, we are also embarking on our own journey to launch a constellation of our own small satellites to give the average “Earthling” the opportunity to experiment in the environment of lower Earth orbit – and access space data that impacts their daily activities and lives. Our strategy focuses on increasing downstream demand starting with the end user in mind.

Our constellation of 3D-printed “LizzieSats” are positioned to deploy both as a kind of zero-gravity “creative space” where customers prove their payloads and/or use data collection from sensors owned to Sidus via our UIT [International Telecommunications Union]- communication spectrum approved in real time. We have an agreement with SpaceX to begin launch in the first quarter of 2023, and what we are offering is truly groundbreaking. Our Multi-Mission Satellite for Multi-Mission Constellation offers consumers a way to access space and space data at a rate never before seen in our economy.

The Artemis 1 rocket on the launch pad. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Space.com: How has your work with NASA changed your life and your view of the space program?

Craig: We have the tools, the technology and the consciousness to understand how our planet works through space technology. From the first ‘blue marble’ image of Earth taken outside our atmosphere decades ago, to the remote images and sensors that NOAA [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] relies today to predict hurricane seasons, the work done in space is essential to the survival of humanity. We are able to put the brightest minds to work solving humanity’s toughest problems. It’s hard for me to imagine being anywhere else doing something different. In many ways, I believe that is my goal. Everything I have been exposed to and learned along the way has brought me to this point with these amazing people. Space is our destiny.

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