Honeybee Robotics, with three locations in the USA, received NASA funding awards to contribute to developing future planetary exploration, space mining and in-situ resource utilization. One of the projects is the High Temperature Venus Drill and Sample Delivery System to provide drilling and sampling operations in the challenging environmental conditions of the planet Venus.
Honeybee Robotics selected Solar Atmospheres to provide heat treating for the robotic explorer on drive train components comprised of a specialized alloy, Ferrium C61. The alloy is designed as a high strength, high fracture toughness carburizing grade steel capable of high temperature applications in corrosive environments.
Solar Atmospheres developed the difficult processing conditions required to optimize the properties for the specialty alloy and satisfy the demanding heat treat requirements. The drive train components are vacuum carburized at 1825°F, high-pressure nitrogen gas quenched, frozen at -150°F, and tempered in a vacuum at 900°F. Given the severe conditions used to process the alloy, one can understand why it was selected for the Venus drilling application.