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Shooting for the Moon with Erin Griggs

Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2023

ARCS Scholar Alumna 2013-14 and new Colorado Chapter member Erin Griggs is shooting for the Moon, figuratively and literally.

As a Senior Modeling and Simulation Engineer with Trusted Space, Inc., Erin designs missions to space. “I get to build space missions for all these different customers and analyze them and figure out things like where the orbit goes or how the orbits look, how we’re going to communicate with the satellite, what happens if something goes wrong. Mission engineering is what I call it,” says Erin.

Trusted Space, Inc. specializes in space engineering, space mission design, and analysis. Some of their customers and partners include the Air Force, the Space Force, NASA, universities, startups, and commercial entities. Their work ranges from early-phase mission planning and design to missions that are launch-ready.

“We run the whole gamut of space missions in general. We work low Earth orbit all the way up to the Moon, and do a lot of different modeling and techniques,” explains Erin.

Erin is excited about the future of space exploration, especially on the heels of recent successful missions. She explained lower orbit satellites are less expensive and simpler to launch, and as a result, she anticipates even more missions to the Moon.

Shooting for the Moon

According to Erin, increased planning and missions to the Moon will lead to a higher priority for lunar science.  Her current projects work to create infrastructure around the Moon that mimics the satellites like those used by citizens of Earth. Earth’s satellites help us watch television, navigate where we are and communicate with each other. “We are building this infrastructure around the Moon so that once we start having these frequent launches, they are ready for everybody,” shares Erin.

The result of building these technologies around the Moon means the US could eventually branch to other planets. “These technologies on the Moon enable us to go beyond the Moon, and perhaps send more things to Mars or our solar system,” Erin says. “We’re really on the beginning edge of a lot of cool things about to happen,”

Erin credits her ARCS Scholar Award as the reason she was able to return to school to get an advanced degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She started her academic career with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Mathematics. Then after internships at aerospace companies in Colorado, she decided to pursue a PhD in Aerospace Engineering.

“Beyond school, having the advanced degree got me to a job path I wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise. With the advanced degree, I’ve been able to have more research experience and be more selective about the projects I work on and whom I work for,” she says. “I’m really appreciative of that. The financial backing was really important to finish the degree.”

Today, Erin gives back to the ARCS community and to future scholars through active membership with the Colorado ARCS Chapter. Erin concludes, “ARCS not only provides the financial backing to pursue their different interests but also shows this interconnection between all the different STEM fields. It’s important and we all need to work together on this. It connects the different dots between these different achievements.”