When you’re a kid, you want to be an astronaut. You just do. Sure, astronauts get the praise, interviews, and glory. But an astronaut can’t actually become an astronaut without thousands of people tirelessly working to put them into space.
Chemistry Makes It Possible to Go To Infinity...and Beyond
The 2018 theme for National Chemistry Week was "Out of This World." To celebrate, we honored all the behind-the-scenes heroes of chemistry and science who make space travel possible.
We also celebrated a few other behind-the-scenes heroes—the Chemours products powered by chemistry that have helped make the space program what it is today.
Teflon™ Doesn't Just Live in the Kitchen
While Teflon™ might be best known for its nonstick capabilities, it has a variety of space applications as well—most notably, in the robotic arms and electronic modules of the Mars rovers. Additionally, the iconic images from the surface of Mars, captured by the rovers, would not be possible without Teflon™ resins.
A half century before our exploration of the Red planet, Teflon™ was used in the spacesuits of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, our first astronauts to walk on the Moon. For the early Apollo missions, Teflon™ comprised the outermost layer of the suit and prevented micrometeoroids from puncturing and depressurizing it.
Thomas Joseph Kelly’s lunar module ensured our first astronauts safely landed on the Moon. Fifty years later, we’re using Teflon™ fluoroplastics to ensure we land safely on the Red Planet whenever that time comes.
Krytox™ Roars Into Space
Whether used in a car cruising on I-80 or a rocket blasting into orbit, Krytox™ high-performance lubricants serve similar functions. When a rocket transitions from the warmth and pressure of Earth to the cold vacuum of space, the rocket motor must produce a colossal amount of energy. Krytox™ high-performance lubricants ensure our rockets are able to withstand the harsh conditions and hot temperatures when transitioning into space.
Spacesuits also utilize Krytox™ high-performance lubricants. Since temperatures can swing hundreds of degrees between sunlight and darkness, astronauts need a product that retains its lubricating properties through a wide temperature range (unlike traditional lubricants).
Meet Robert Goddard, the inventor of the first liquid-fueled rocket. Goddard’s first launch, on March 16, 1926, forever changed space flight and innovation. We use Krytox™ high-performance lubricants to make sure our rockets, machines, and mechanisms are performing at peak levels.
Viton™ Aerospace History
When Viton™ was developed in 1957, it was meant to meet the needs of the aerospace industry for a high-performing seal elastomer. Viton™ was specifically integral to the 1996 shuttle Atlantis. Viton™ became an integral component of the 1996 shuttle Atlantis, which needed an adhesive capable of withstanding temperatures that exceeded 230 °C (450° F). Because of its superior bond strength, durability, and long shelf life—and ability to perform well in turbulent, unpredictable conditions without compromising quality—engineers chose the Viton(TM) fluoroelastomer.
You won’t find a person more dedicated to discovering if there’s life in space than Dr. Sara Seager. With Viton™ fluoroelastomers, we’re making sure our rockets and equipment on the ground are up for the harsh demands of space exploration.
Anticipating Future Missions
Each of these products has contributed a small part to a large accomplishment thanks to their chemistry-powered performances. Enabling exploits is but one example of how chemistry is a living thing that has transformed our lives and improved the world. Chemistry and these products have taken us to the Moon. And, one day, it will take us to Mars.
We can’t wait to see where chemistry takes us next.