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August 24, 2012
Alcoa on Mars
Alcoa and Aluminum Again Advance Space Exploration
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Alcoa (NYSE:AA) and aluminum helped advance space exploration another
step recently when NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars following its
352-million-mile journey from Earth.
Curiosity is a car-sized, six-wheeled robot made mostly of aluminum,
which makes the craft light, durable and fast. Incorporated into the
assembly of Curiosity are high-strength precision aerospace fasteners
manufactured by Alcoa
Fastening Systems in California. Inconel
718 bolts and standard hexagon nuts produced at Alcoa’s Newbury Park
facilities and Keensert
Inserts manufactured at Alcoa’s Torrance plant were used in the
construction of the rover.
Alcoa's high-strength fasteners connect the many structural components
and attach equipment securely to the vehicle, and the threaded inserts
are essential in transferring high tension and high loads into the
lightweight base structure. Both the Inconel 718 bolts and hexagon nuts
can withstand temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit (650
degrees Celsius). The Inconel 718 bolts also have excellent strength
properties at elevated temperatures making them ideal for spacecraft,
rocket motors, and turbines.
"All Alcoans should be proud of our latest contribution to this
milestone in human history,” said Alcoa Chairman and CEO Klaus
Kleinfeld. “From Kitty Hawk to Mars and beyond, Alcoa solutions have
helped shape every major advance in aviation. More than 90 percent of
aerospace alloys in use today were invented by Alcoa, and our fasteners,
forgings or other products can be found on virtually anything that
Alcoa Space-Age Achievements
Alcoa aluminum alloys and propellants have helped make many space
milestones possible, from the first manned flight and the first moon
landing to the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs.
The tiny lunar module Eagle used in the U.S. Apollo space program in the
1960s was built almost completely of aluminum, offering precious weight
savings. Twenty years later when the Space Shuttle Columbia made its
maiden flight, Alcoa was on board with powdered aluminum fuel that
helped launch the shuttle and aluminum components in the main engine’s
liquid hydrogen pump.
And in 2010 Alcoa aluminum lithium plate was featured in NASA's
first full-scale friction-stir welded and spun-formed tank dome designed
for use in large liquid propellant tanks. Alcoa engineers were part of
the consulting team providing materials expertise that helped develop
this groundbreaking, cost-effective technology. By using a lighter
weight material, the number of pieces needed to create a tank dome was
significantly reduced and numerous manufacturing steps were eliminated.
It's an example of how next-generation aluminum alloys continue to push
the boundaries of innovation.
Alcoa continues its technology leadership in patented aluminum lithium
alloys which allow airframes to build dramatically lighter and
lower-cost aircraft versus composite alternatives. Earlier this year,
Alcoa announced an expansion
of its aluminum-lithium capabilities at three locations around the
world to meet growing demand in the aerospace market for its newest
alloys, which provide the best strength-to-weight performance in Alcoa’s
aerospace alloy portfolio combined with better stiffness and corrosion
resistance. And Alcoa continues to consult with and work closely with
the leading players in space exploration.
Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum, fabricated
aluminum and alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum
industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the
aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial
transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the
past 120 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled
products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels,
fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building
systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as
titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral
part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and
engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow
Jones Sustainability Index for ten consecutive years and approximately
75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in
active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 31
countries across the world. More information can be found at www.alcoa.com.