Santa Clarita businesses do big very well.
From the towering gold Oscar statues that grace the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood that get their metallic airbrushing in a Canyon Country warehouse to a white metal container emblazoned with an American flag, destined to play a part in the space program that soared into the Valencia sky Thursday afternoon.
Think big. Be big.
About 50 people looked at the white obelisk, some with curiosity, most with pride, as their company Vivace Spacetron, was throwing a little “coming out” party to thank those people who, in only eight months, created a container that would protect the cargo container intended for the International Space Station.
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The Cygnus Vertical Container is a spacecraft transporter specifically designed for the safe ground movement of Orbital Science’s Cygnus spacecraft around the launch site. With the retirement of the space shuttle program, space exploration and research is becoming privatized. NASA sought out a company who could continue to shuttle supplies to the astronauts orbiting the Earth in the space station and hired Space Exploration Technologies Corporation of Hawthorne and Orbital Sciences of Dulles, VA to handle the deliveries.
“This will stay on the ground,” explained Bill Kennedy, a consultant to Vivace. “It is designed for climate control and to protect the $150 million payload within.”
The cargo pods will contain a variety of items depending on the space station needs; from scientific experiments, equipment, replacement parts for the space station, food and clothing for occupants.
“An interesting sidelight of this is that these cargo pods go up full, of course, and meet up with the space station, where the astronauts pull out what they need and empty them,” Kennedy said. “Then they take the empty pod and put their trash and refuse in there that they’ve been collecting, and as soon as it’s full, they jettison it back to earth. It never hits the ground, it hits the atmosphere and burns up, it looks like a meteor going across the sky.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean was one of the people marveling at the creation and she commended the teamwork that went into building it.
“This is proof once again that small business is the backbone of the country,” she said. “You should be proud of yourselves. I have always been a lover of the future and space travel fascinates me. This project will keep America in the forefront, it makes me a little sad when our space program isn’t forwarded by our government, but I know it’s in good hands because of all of you.”
Rick Montoya, Spacetron’s president, was a man of few words, but much enthusiasm.
“We’re looking to put more people to work, made in America, right?” he asked. “We’ve been in the aerospace business 29 years, in the Santa Clarita Valley since 1996, making space hardware for the space shuttle, and now we’re getting into the commercial part of it. This is a big accomplishment for me.”
“Eight months ago, this project wasn’t even going on,” Kennedy continued. “With the retirement of the space program, if left tens of thousands of people unemployed, some of them here in the valley. This is the next phase of the space program, one we’ll be supporting for years to come.”
“For Santa Clarita, this means opportunities for jobs, and it also means that it will draw attention to the city as a place of creativity and high technology and manufacturing that can fulfill major projects like this with high visibility. This is all part of a big picture.”