Club members were treated to an insider’s view of NASA’s space program from our March 10 speaker, Cristy Kumasaka, the principal quality assurance engineer for Aerojet Rocketdyne of Redmond, WA, and is part of the A-Team working on both the Orion and Artemis projects for NASA. 

Joining Cristy for our Zoom meeting were her parents Steve and Maria Mathews, longtime members of the Rotary Club of Peoria North and Mill Creek Rotary Club.

Cristy has worked for Aerojet for 22 years, starting with an internship while working toward her degree in engineering. As a side note, Cristy credits her career to the day that she attended a meeting of her mother’s Rotary Club and learned about Aerojet from the meeting’s speaker.

NASA’s Artemis program will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon to explore the lunar surface like never before. This bold endeavor will begin with the Artemis I launch - an uncrewed flight test.

Artemis I is the first integrated test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft. SLS and Orion will blast off from Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to send Orion into a lunar distant retrograde orbit – a wide orbit around the Moon that is farther from Earth than any human-rated spacecraft has ever traveled. The uncrewed mission will validate the design and safety of SLS and Orion for human exploration missions to follow.

SLS is the nation’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket that will carry humans farther and faster into deep space than ever before. Aerojet Rocketdyne provides the four powerful RS-25 main engines used to help propel SLS with over 2 million pounds of thrust, as well as the RL10 engine that propels the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), or the second stage, of the SLS. This engine provides the power to accelerate the Orion spacecraft to speeds more than 20,000 mile per hour and set it on a course for the Moon.