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Company provides thermal solution in support of another space research mission

In August, GrafTech announced that it had developed and manufactured the thermal solution that protected the recent Mars Curiosity mission from the intense heat and friction generated during the rover’s descent through the Martian atmosphere.

GrafTech has recently won another contract for the thermal protection system for a space mission known as OSIRIS-REx, in which NASA plans to rendezvous with an asteroid, collect a sample from the surface, and return it to Earth.

The Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) is a planetary science mission with a 2016 planned launch. OSIRIS-REx will bring back a sample of a carbonaceous asteroid to Earth for detailed analyses. The returned material is expected to help scientists learn more about the time before the formation and evolution of the solar system, initial stages of planet formation, and the source of organic compounds that led to the formation of life.

The advanced thermal protection material products and solutions for these projects were developed and manufactured by a subsidiary of GrafTech’s Engineered Solutions’ segment. The thermal protection material will be used on the sample return capsule that will bring the asteroid samples back to Earth. The same material was also used on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover) mission and NASA’s Stardust mission that brought back samples from a comet in 2006.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and its sample return capsule. It also built the protective aeroshell for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, and the Stardust spacecraft and its sample return capsule.

GrafTech Chairman & CEO Craig Shular commented, “This is an exciting area that leverages our core competency of providing unique, innovative graphite material science solutions into high-tech industries. We are proud of our partnerships with NASA and Lockheed Martin Space Systems.”