Gore’s products were part of the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
Our products supported getting men to the moon, were involved in the experiments on the moon, and helped the astronauts to navigate back home safely.
Gore Space Facts
- Gore has provided highly reliable wire and cable solutions for the space industry since its start over 60 years ago. In fact, Gore began prototyping designs for fluorocarbon insulated wires and ribbon cables for use in space vehicles.
- In 1958, the same year NASA was established Gore began.
- Gore products have a 100% failure-free flight record.
- Gore has been a part of more than 100 spaceflight programs … including many iconic space programs like the Space Shuttle Program, International Space Station, and Hubble Space Telescope.
- Gore products have also played a role in missions to the Moon, Pluto, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.
- Gore products have enabled technologies that are an integral part of our daily lives … like GPS, mobile phone connectivity, and satellite radio to name a few.
How did we get involved? Who approached who?
Our sales force were tasked with going out and finding different applications, and they had a pulse on space.
Our focus making products for use in space began at our company's beginning in 1958. We had built a good reputation in our first 10 years with wire and cable and early on we knew Gore materials were suited for the most demanding environments.
All this said, we approached several suppliers to NASA like JPL, Hughes, and McDonnel Douglas and the rest is history.
The Challenges on the Moon
The Lunar surface brought many challenges and NASA had many requirements.
First, there was the lunar environment with extreme temperatures, no protection against space radiation, and abrasion issues for anything that would rub on the lunar surface. There were also product requirements that had to be met; for example the mass of a product was heavily scrutinized because every ... ounce ... mattered. Flexibility was also key because one of the cables had to be put on a reel for storage and then rolled out once on the moon. And on top of these challenges, the cable needed to transmit signals… this was no easy feat.
Where could you find Gore products?
Our cable connected the seismographic equipment to the lunar lander. We chose to use a flat copper conductor cable, which at the time was something you didn’t see often. Because this cable had to come in direct contact with the lunar surface, we needed to design a cable that could withstand abrasion, extreme temperatures, and radiation. So, we created 45 to 50-ft lengths of flat cable with many layers that were laminated together. The outside layer used a Kapton polyimide film because we knew it had a very high melting temperature, above 300°C. This outer Kapton layer also protected all of the inner layers of this flat cable from the abrasive lunar surface and provided shielding against radiation.
Here you can see a closer view of our flat copper conductor cable on the lunar surface. Despite the many layers, our materials enabled us to design a cable that was flexible, lightweight and durable enough to withstand the lunar surface.
Gore’s MULTI-TETTM ribbon cables were used in the Apollo Guidance Computer. Each Guidance Computer weighed 15-lbs and there were 2 of them on board. The Apollo Guidance Computer provided computation and electronic interfaces for guidance, navigation, and control of the spacecraft. An entire mission to the Moon was run by the Apollo guidance computer — from checking the guidance platform alignment and firing the engines. All told, it took about 10,500 keystrokes to get to the Moon and back, and every one of them was entered into the guidance computer.
Gore’s wires were even used in the moon rock shovel that allowed astronauts the ability to pick up moon rocks and bring them back to earth. These rocks were heavily studied and helped scientists understand more about the moon and the earth.
Our products were also used in the ground support equipment. In particular, computers, communications and radar equipment, which was key in enabling contact with the astronauts and ensuring their safe return home.
How did we know our products would survive?
Our edge was materials because we understood them. We knew Gore materials were suited for the most demanding environments like the lunar surface, and we relied on subject matter expertise to determine the material sets were fit for use. For example, one of the Product Specialists on the team came from DuPont, and he was on the research team that invented Kapton. Our products were tested extensively by Gore as well as NASA and their suppliers and each was proven reliable before they went to the moon. We continue to follow this approach today which can be summed by the coined term "test like you fly and fly like you test." This is Aerospace Engineer speak. It means… don’t leave anything to chance, test for everything that could happen.
Where can you find Gore products in Aerospace?
GORE-TEX® fibers have been woven into the outer layer of astronauts’ space suits since the first space shuttle mission. Our products continue to be used in commercial aircraft manufactured by Airbus, Boeing, Dassault and Comac. We also supply products to every major military aircraft, such as the F-16, F-35, Eurofighter, Apache and Blackhawk helicopters. And our sealants have been used for more than 20 years to protect panels, floorboards and windows from moisture and corrosion throughout both commercial and military aircraft.
What now? What does the future look like for Gore in space?
Gore has continued to have a large focus within Aerospace, making products that can survive in demanding environments. Despite the radical transformation in space, Gore is developing a portfolio of products to meet the demands of NewSpace applications.
With our heritage in materials and our track record for over 60 years, we’re excited about offering a variety of reliable solutions that will be affordable to the NewSpace private sector. Solutions will include:
- low-frequency hook-up wires that can be used to supply reliable power to Low Earth Orbit satellites and on the launch vehicles that launch these satellites
- ethernet and other cable products that deliver high-speed data from sensors and cameras to onboard computers and more
- microwave/RF coaxial assemblies for high-density, low-loss, and high-frequency Ka band applications. These types of assemblies are often found in box-to-box connections inside a satellite and connecting to antennas that transmit signals between earth or with other satellites.