On Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, NASA’s new spacecraft Orion launched successfully from Cape Canaveral and completed its first test flight. New to all future “human present” rockets will be the Launch Abort System (LAS). This part of the safety system was vacuum heat treated by Solar Atmospheres.
The large manifold housing made from 6AI 4V titanium is designed to rapidly propel astronauts away from the main rocket in case of a catastrophic explosion or any other unexpected event. Once fired, the LAS will accelerate the astronauts away from the main rocket at forces up to 10 to 15 g’s.
“The welded component needed to be homogenously treated to insure peak performance in the event the LAS would be needed," said Michael Johnson, sales manager of Solar Atmospheres. "Precise temperature monitoring of the part and uniformity of the furnace was the easy part, while minimizing distortion, and avoiding eutectic’s with the fixturing materials used, were ultimately the real challenge. At the end of the day, both Solar and its customer had a process that proved to be successful on the prototype and the three additional manifolds that followed.”