Newberry Township, meet Mars.
When the $2.5 billion NASA rover Curiosity stuck its landing on Mars Sunday, thousands of pieces of York County had made the eight-month, 352 million-mile trip.
The 44 employees at Newberry-based Die-Tech Inc. designed and manufactured numerous pieces for the six-wheeled roving laboratory, though they didn't know it at the time, said PK Dennis, marketing manager.
The company manufactures metal stampings for automotive, military, aerospace, electronics, medical and other industries, she said. A couple of years ago, employees found out that the small precision parts being made at the York County factory were used in early rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
Die-Tech sells the stampings to California-based Presidio Components, which makes capacitors that store energy on electric circuit boards, Dennis said. The product is designed for a harsh environment, outer space.
"And those were selected by NASA to go into the rovers," she said.
Over the weekend, Dennis was watching the landing and wondering if Die-Tech parts were used. She called Presidio, and they confirmed that the York County parts were now on Mars.
"We're very pleased that something made right here in Central Pennsylvania is now on Mars, on another planet," she said. "Made in America, and now on Mars."
She said the contract was only about $15,000, and the small metal parts are less than a half-inch long and less than a quarter of an inch wide.
"They're pretty small, but very important," she said. "If the circuit boards don't work, then nothing works."
The nuclear-powered rover will dig into the Martian surface, analyzing the soil and hunting for the molecular building blocks of life, including carbon.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.