On Mars mission, Scottish technology: WL Gore welcomes new space initiative

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The “heart” of NASA’s Perseverance rover, which will gather samples on a trip, is the Scottish-made components scheduled to land on Mars in February – a mission that conjures pictures of a future for space exploration that seems less like science fiction today.

But the more than three miles of wires and cables that crisscross the rover like veins connect previous parts belonging to W. already on Mars. From L. Gore. The latter’s Dundee space center is the hub of its worldwide operations and is connected to two previous successful NASA Mars exploration missions.

As part of an exploration mission, Gore-Kit was already on the moon before mankind, remembers Jeff Fyfe, director of the space division.

Scottish technology on a NASA rover mission to Mars

In addition to working with NASA and the European Space Agency, the company has order books for Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Airbus, among others, and is currently involved in conventional spaceflight and ‘NewSpace,’ where quick communication is a concern and specifications may vary from previous times – Gore was founded in 1958.

“We started working with NASA in the early sixties. Space was really one of our first markets we ventured into with our wire and cable products,” says Mr. Fyfe. We collaborated with them on a variety of missions, all the way to the big mission, the July 1969 Apollo 11 landing on the moon, and coincidentally, we also noticed in 1969 that it was possible to stretch PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), and that’s what we call Gore-Tex today.

“Before Neil Armstrong, we were already on the moon. Before the Apollo lunar module launched, it was simply to do tests to see if the weight of the module could land on the moon, which, of course, it could.

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“He said, “So for almost 60 years, we’ve been making space wire and cable solutions, and we’re really really proud of that.

The new kit is “basically the heart of the Perseverance Rover.” which is cruising towards Mars at around 60,000 miles per hour.

There are about three and a half miles of cable in the Perseverance Rover, which is very remarkable when you think of something that’s about the size of a vehicle.

The rover will recover samples and leave them for future missions to gather and examine in sealed containers.

“The point is to determine if there is or has been any sign of life,” Mr. Fyfe said.

Currently, this is not the first time that we have been to Mars. We have already been there. The first ride, named Curiosity, was in November 2011. In May 2018, the second trip took place, and it was named the InSight mission.

NASA Mars 2020 Mission for Perseverance

He said of the company’s future path, “You can define space in two ways.” There’s what we call conventional space, which is what’s been around for the last couple of decades, and then there’s what’s evolving now, called NewSpace.

“It’s a radical global transformation that NewSpace is having in terms of impact. It’s people like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos who are funding these activities. It’s mostly about connecting the world. Half the world still doesn’t have the ability to connect, and it’s a basic human right to have that connectivity.”

“There are thousands (of satellites) that are going to be launched in the next few years, and it’s about connecting the world.”

“He reflects, “I’m always asked, what did you do before you came to Gore? I often tell people that I played soccer with my friends and went to school, because that’s what I did, I came straight out of school to Gore. At 16, I joined the business, I was the youngest employee, or member of staff. I’ve been 39 years at Gore now, so I’m the oldest.

“It’s not often you see companies that offer that kind of longevity, if you will, so it’s a fantastic organization to work for.”

Gore is very very proud to be part of these missions to the moon, Mars and beyond,” he added, “and the work we are doing now with NASA and the European Space Agency is going to have a big effect on many of our future generations. So I suggest, buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride out there.

The Q&A

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