ROCKFORD, June 12 — Crucial parts of the Orion spacecraft, which is NASA’s first deep-space exploration vehicle commissioned in 40 years, are being built in Rockford. Ingersoll Machine Tools has been delegated the construction of the aluminum aft bulkhead. According to a Rockford Register Star article, this part is “essentially the bottom of the module where astronauts live and work”.
The Star also quotes Mark Kirasich, Orion deputy program manager at NASA, on the importance of the bulk head, “When we land into the ocean we can be going at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. The aft bulkhead has to take those loads. But while it has to be strong, it also has to be very light because we have to push that aft bulkhead from the surface of the Earth, into space, all the way to the moon and other deep space destinations.”
Another Rockford company that is helping to construct Orion is UTC Aerospace Systems. They are building the environmental control system that allows astronauts to live in space.