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I am Artemis: Erica Sandoval

I am Artemis: Erica Sandoval

For Erica Sandoval, clothing assembly is what sparked her interest in engineering. While clothing and rockets don’t seem to have a lot in common, critical engineering skills are needed for any major assembly operation to be successful.

“I had a roundabout path into the space industry, but I love it here,” said Sandoval, Northrop Grumman’s program manager for the launch abort system abort motor at their Magna, Utah, facility.

After pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, she eventually found herself in rocket motor manufacturing.

“I would’ve never imagined that this is where I would end up, but it is an exciting industry and humbling to be a small part of the space industry team,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval leads the team that builds the abort motor for the Orion spacecraft’s launch abort system (LAS). The LAS, fixed atop the Orion crew module, is comprised of three solid rocket motors that work together to safeguard Artemis astronauts in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during ascent atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

At over 17 feet tall, the abort motor contributes 400,000 pounds of thrust to pull the crew module and astronauts inside away from the SLS in the case of an emergency. The attitude control motor fires to reorient the crew module, then the jettison motor fires to separate the crew module from the LAS for parachute deployment and a safe landing in the ocean.

Sandoval has been a part of the abort motor team since the first qualification static test. She and her team must ensure that the motor meets the quality, safety and technical requirements for mission success.

“I learn things from space that impact my daily life,” Sandoval said. “This role has given me a broader perspective of the Orion’s exploration capabilities and how my work fits in to the overall spacecraft.”

Learn more about the Orion spacecraft.

Image Credit: Northrop Grumman

Check out some of our other I am Artemis features.