Corning Inc. made windows of space shuttle Columbia

Corning Inc. provided important parts, including all of the windows, on the space shuttle Columbia, which exploded on re-entry into earth“s atmosphere on 1 February 2003 over Texas, southern USA.
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Corning Inc. provided important parts, including all of the windows, on the space shuttle Columbia, which exploded on re-entry into earth“s atmosphere on 1 February 2003 over Texas, southern USA. “We“ve made every window for every (American) manned space flight,” said Larry Sutton, the company“s North American manager for semiconductor materials. Sutton said Corning Inc. had built more than three dozen panes of glass for the Columbia space shuttle at its plant in Canton, NewYork. Each of the orbiter windows contains three panes of glass: in the windscreen the exterior pane is made from a special glass known as high-purity fused silica in order to withstand extreme temperatures on re-entry into the earth“s atmosphere; the inner pane, known as the pressure pane is made from an alumino-silicate glass strengthened to stand up to the cabin pressure in the vacuum of space; the middle pane is a thick fused silica glass. Sutton said Corning Inc. also makes frit, which was used to seal the more-than 24,000 heat-resistant tiles on the exterior surface of Columbia. Corning does not produce the tiles. “We sell the powder, and the processing (of the tiles) is done at the Cape (Cape Canaveral),” Sutton said. “It seals the tiles so they don“t absorb moisture, which would add weight to the orbiter.” Yet another Corning Inc. material, called Macor, was used as a sealant around the landing gear and the doors of the Columbia orbiter, Sutton said. “It“s a glass ceramic so you can machine it like metal,” Sutton said. “That makes complex shapes possible.” Macor was invented by award-winning Corning Inc. scientist George H. Beall. Sutton said news of Columbia“s crash had a devastating impact at Corning Inc.“s Canton plant, whose workers are proud of their part in the space program. “It“s heartbreaking,” he said. “Space products are a very small portion of what we do at Canton, but the first response you get when you ask anybody there what we do is “we make space shuttle windows.“” Corning Inc., made the windows for America“s first space flights, and also manufactured the window for the lunar landing vehicle Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration chose Corning Inc.“s high-purity fused silica glass to be part of an experiment on the international space station. The glass sample was delivered to the space station by the shuttle Discovery on 16 August 2001, where it was fixed to the exterior of the orbiting laboratory in order to test its durability and stability. In addition to its work on the shuttle Columbia, Corning Inc. made all the glass for the international space station“s observation window. “The glass was the highest-quality material we have ever produced for a space vehicle,” Sutton said. Corning Inc.“s other connections with U.S. space program include manufacturing the primary mirror for the Hubble Space Telescope.