While welding is an integral part of how many things are made on Earth, the need for this technology goes far beyond your local auto repair shop or construction site. Imagine what it takes to accommodate the welding needs of spacecraft that is subjected to both high heat, large debris and dangerous voids in the atmosphere that is destined to venture farther into space than we have ever reached. When NASA began development of the new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, they also needed to create equipment that was capable of building it. This led to the development and construction of the world’s largest welding tool, the Vertical Assembly Center.
The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will be used for deep space mission to asteroids and eventually sent to Mars. To make this possible, NASA has designed it to be the most powerful, and one of the largest space vessels they have ever built. Standing over 200 feet tall with a diameter of nearly 28 feet, the rocket will hold large amounts of both liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, enough to supply its four RS-25 rockets on lengthy missions. It is also designed to be able to carry astronauts to the Orion space station and in the future, begin to explore destinations much further into our solar system such as Mars.
Surrounding all this precious cargo is a structure built from 2219 aluminum alloy. Part of the wrought-aluminum family, 2219 aluminum alloy is composed of aluminum, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and trace levels of other metals. This combination creates an aluminum that is not just incredibly strong, but extremely resistant to warping, stretching, or bending under extreme conditions, including high heat. While this is the ideal material to use for spacecraft, its resistance to high heat also makes it difficult to weld. Considering this, NASA began building its special Vertical Assembly Center equipped with a special welding tool kit that is capable of helping construct our future spacecraft.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
NASA employs two different types of welding for aerospace applications using 2219 aluminum alloy. The first is Gas Tungsten Arc welding done in a flat position that uses a high purity helium gas shield to provide deep welds without contamination or oxidation. The second, more advanced type of is Variable Polarity Plasma Arc Welding. It offers the high-heating capacity needed to bond 2219 aluminum alloy, can be performed in a vertical position, and needs no shielding gas. The Vertical Assembly Center employs this welding technology, and with the help of a computer, and is being used to weld the core stage of the SLS rocket. Standing 170-feet tall and 78-feet wide it is currently the largest spacecraft welding tool in the world. While this is the just the first project it is being used for, its state-of-the-art technology will be able to accommodate many future spacecraft builds.
While you may not be needing special space-age equipment for your welding project, Argyle Welding Supply does provide both professional and at-home welders with all the safety equipment and working materials needed both on and off the job. We also carry a variety of products for the food and beverage industry, pool maintenance and specialized gas products for a variety of applications including various gases and gas supplies for consumer use. At Argyle, we strive to be the best welding supplier we can so that our customers are safe and productive. Visit us at any of our three locations in El Paso, Albuquerque, or Las Cruces or on our social media on Facebook and Twitter.