This guest contribution is part of our ISS20 series commemorating 20 years of continuous human presence on the ISS through a collection of visionary contributions on the future of space.
Carol Craig holds a B.A. in computer science, a B.S. in computer science engineering, and an M.S. in electrical and computer engineering. Following college and 3.5 years in the Navy, she founded Craig Technologies in 1999. She has spent the last decade focusing on aerospace and defense with a concentration on commercial opportunities culminating in the creation of Sidus Space Technologies.
When I reflect on the past 20 years of space exploration, low Earth orbit (LEO) commercialization, and space-based research, I see the tangible results of opportunity, will, and diversity. Adventurous individuals looked up to the stars and said, “This is where we want go next; this is an opportunity to discover and learn.” I think about the level of perseverance and dedication required to make the dream of an international space station a reality and am in awe of this achievement.
The construction of the International Space Station (ISS) took the right mix of people, funding, teamwork, and government support from 15 countries to create a station in microgravity unlike anything we’d seen before. Years of thoughtful planning and execution led to a working laboratory on the U.S. portion of the station, followed by countless hours of astronaut training to begin conducting science and performing maintenance on station. For 20 years, humanity has maintained presence on station, made impactful advancements in research and development (R&D), and demonstrated true collaboration. Humanity did that. It wasn’t one country or one institution; this success belongs to the human race.
Founded in 1999, Craig Technologies supports projects from concept to real-world application with end-users in mind. We offer a wide range of engineering and technical solutions to include software design and development, engineering and integration support, training and courseware development, modeling and simulation, information technology support, integrated logistics support, manufacturing, and avionic electronics fabrication. We are a small business that is U.S.-owned, woman-owned, economically disadvantaged woman-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, and Hispanic minority-owned.
Our manufacturing subsidiary, Craig Technologies Aerospace Solutions (CTAS), supports precision machining, welding, fabrication, and 3D printing. We execute the assembly of prototypes, test articles, one-offs, and low-rate initial production up through high volume swiss screw machining. In addition, we produce a wide range of space system flight and ground cables, electronic chassis, and electro-mechanical assemblies. CTAS is also currently in the manufacturing phase of finalizing an innovative satellite bus using additive manufacturing as a precursor to the launch of an in-orbit research and development satellite constellation. Working alongside the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, government organizations, and private companies, our engineering division directly supports and contributes to the current LEO commercialization effort.
And now, we direct our gaze forward to the next 20 years of space-related activities involving the ISS. Ideally, the future of the ISS and other platforms embraces current advancements aimed at LEO commercialization for space-based technology development to be used in space as well as on Earth. Raising Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) at a low cost and a reduced time frame will become a common in-space R&D activity, and as time goes on, Craig Technologies, with its CraigX Flight Test Platform and in-orbit testing constellation, is one of the companies setting the stage for expanded TRL R&D. Our SSIKLOPS platform, which robotically deploys satellites from the ISS and is designed to provide a method to transfer internally stowed satellites to the external environment, provides the platform for rapid realization deployment of our satellites. As a result, products will be better; and not just the products for use here on Earth that need to withstand terrestrial radiation or stress. Tools, computers, sensors, and other necessary items needed for space travel will benefit from these advancements, thus enabling deep space exploration.
As the benefits of space-based testing and scientific research continue to permeate the everyday world, the hope is that the companies participating in this meaningful work also become more diverse. Companies and organizations run by women and people of color are uncommon now, but the future is positioned to change that fact. Craig Technologies contributes to the diversity of companies currently managing platforms on station as part of the ISS National Lab. As women and people of color continue to seek out opportunities to advance LEO commercialization and participate in space exploration, they will alter the makeup of who we define as entrepreneurs, astronauts, researchers, and explorers. The individuals occupying these roles will more closely reflect our world experience and their personal experiences will contribute to a wealth of new ideas to carry us into the next phase of LEO commercialization and space exploration.
Craig Technologies is motivated by the success of current activities and how they might blossom into new avenues of research and exploration. May the next 20 years of ISS research be filled with a diverse array of visionaries and creative minds focused on the betterment of lives here on Earth and the advancement of space exploration.