GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The next chapter in space exploration is about to begin with the scheduled launch of NASA’s Artemis rocket on Saturday, and a Grand Rapids company will be closely watching for its success.

Engineers at DornerWorks are developing an important component that is expected to travel around the moon on the Artemis 2 mission in 2024 and eventually to the lunar surface.

Business Development Director Gregg Wildes said the advanced technology shrinks down an ethernet switch, which is typically the size of a pizza box.

“What the DornerWorks team has enabled is an ethernet switch on a chip that’s like the size of your thumb,” Wildes said. “The team is really passionate and has a lot of ownership around our piece enabling that overall mission.”

The device will be on the crew module and is expected to land on the moon in future missions like Artemis 3.

“They’re specialty chips that are really good for information processing with low power and small footprint, so you can imagine in a satellite or a space system having something that’s small that can do a lot of computing,” Wildes said.  

Danche Gjorgjievski, a senior engineering manager on the project, said the team is working hard to design the important component.

“It basically allows other modules to be able to connect on the internet,” Gjorgjievski said. “It will provide internet connectivity to even the astronauts … like a video conferencing with their families while they’re in space.”

Gjorgjievski said the work is ongoing following very tough performance standards from NASA but it is a task they are happy to take on for the next phase in exploring space.

“It’s has been over two years, two to three years of development,” Gjorgjievski said. “For an environment like space where the radiation is super high, so we needed to ensure that we had design practices to mitigate that radiation as well as have an architecture that fits in the system.”