Orbital Sciences Engineers Visit Phoenix Heat Treating

Orbital Science’s Pegasus XL rocket design combines state-of-the-art technologies, including many components that are made with aluminum alloys that have been processed for performance, manufacturability and reliability. The Pegasus is the only winged booster vehicle that is used as an expendable launch system intended for commercial and government space users to provide an effective, low-cost means of launching small payloads.

The rocket is launched from the under-belly of Orbital Science’s L1011 Stargazer which is carried aloft to approximately 40,000 ft., then jettisoned from the aircraft. Five seconds after release, the stage-one motor ignites, followed by stage two and three, to propel the rocket into low-orbit. The space booster rocket can be launched from anywhere, rather than being restricted to a launch pad. The rocket is 55-ft. long, 50-in. in diameter, weights 51,000 lbs., produces 140,000 lbs. of thrust and can carry a payload that weighs from 300 to 1000 lbs.

(Nov. 19, 2008), Members of Orbital Sciences Corp’s engineering staff attended a materials and process seminar at Phoenix Heat Treating. The purpose of the meeting was to focus on the properties of aluminum and stainless steels that have been processed in heat treating atmospheres prior to being used in manufacturing. The half-day seminar and plant tour was held to further educate the company’s designers and engineers on the characteristics of 6061, 2024 and 7075 aluminum and selected stainless steel. Their mission is to improve designs of valves, rocket propulsion parts, structural components and hydraulic tubing.

With first-hand knowledge of the properties of these various metal types, Orbital’s design engineers will be able to improve designs for manufacturing, reduce problems and improve the entire manufacturing process, stated Karl Payne, Senior Product Engineer.

“The presentation and information that Pete Hushek shared with our group was beyond the call of duty…right on target for our design engineer needs,” said Payne. “We appreciate the time and resources that were provided to us…knowing the mechanical properties of these materials will allow us to select precisely the materials our engineers are looking for,” Payne added.

Peter Hushek, president and owner of Phoenix Heat Treating, stated that his company’s doors are always open to engineers and designers who are interested in improving their knowledge of metal treating processes. “Our interest is to educated and inform engineers and designers on how to specify the right materials required for an application…corrosion resistance, tensile strength, machinability, component performance, or whatever they are looking for,” said Hushek.

Phoenix Heat Treating is one of the largest and leading heat treating companies located in the southwestern US. The company is privately owned and operated by a fourth-generation heat treating family.

Orbital is the industry leader in the development and manufacture of small space and rocket systems, including orbital satellites, spacecraft for scientific research, launch vehicles, rockets for missile defense and interspace boost vehicles. The company headquarters are located in Dulles, VA, and major facilities are located in Chandler, AZ, California and Maryland.