Senator: SpaceX mission includes single-use lockers built in part by Montana students

A little bit of Montana will be heading skyward soon as part of historic SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station, a U.S. senator said.

The mission, known as DM-2, will include single-use lockers built in part by students from Billings and Helena, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said in a news release. This was done through NASA’s High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware program.

Wednesday’s launch was called off with less than 17 minutes to go in the countdown because of thunderclouds and the danger of lightning. Liftoff was rescheduled for Saturday afternoon.

It will also mark the first attempt by a private company to send astronauts into orbit, the Associated Press reported. The mission would put Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the same league as only three countries — Russia, the U.S. and China, which sent astronauts into orbit in that order.

The actuators for the single-stowage lockers were made by students from the Billings Career Center and ‘butterflies’ (which, like actuators, help close the lockers) were built by students from Capital High School in Helena.

“I am proud that Montana students were able to contribute to this historic moment in our country constructing the DM-2 flight hardware,” Daines said in the news release.   

SpaceX also purchased Area 59 safety platforms from Spika Design and Manufacturing Inc. in Lewistown in 2018, with plans to use them during Dragon 2 propellant-loading operations, Daines said.

Spika officials declined to comment Wednesday, citing confidentiality concerns. But they did say they serve several big companies in aerospace, defense, transportation and space industries.

Daines also noted that Billings native Mike Gold is the acting associate administrator leading international and interagency coordination in support of the launch.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule is atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and will be the first astronaut launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center since the last shuttle flight in 2011.

It will carry NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had arrived to watch Wednesday’s launch.