The Wright brothers built the world’s first successful airplane on December 17, 1903 in Dayton, Ohio. What was the secret to their success? To keep the weight low enough, the engine block was cast from aluminum, a rare practice for the time. Since then, advancements in aircraft and rocket technology are directly correlated with the advancement and product of aluminum alloys.Take a look at a few key events in the aircraft and aerospace market:
The Wright engine, with its aluminum crankcase, marked the first time this breakthrough material was used in aircraft construction. Lightweight aluminum became essential in aircraft design development and remains a primary construction material for all types of aircraft.
In 1942, a New York radio station created a show “Aluminum for Defense” to encourage Americans to contribute scrap aluminum to the war efforts. The aluminum was used in to produce one-third of planes built during World War II
In 1969, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the Apollo program that was responsible for the lading of the first humans on Earth’s Moon. The Apollo Command Module, which housed the crew accommodations, equipment bays, controls and displays, was made of an aluminum honeycomb-sandwich bonded between sheets of aluminum alloy.
NASA’s Orion MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) will serve as the next-generation space exploration vehicle. The primary structures of the Orion spacecraft are made from an aluminum-lithium alloy and will be covered by an advanced version of the thermal protection tiles used on the space shuttle.
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