Machine Design

Looking Back

10 YEARS AGO —APRIL 16, 1998

Voyager I travels farthest from home: Voyager I has outtraveled Pioneer 10 to become the most distant manmade object in space. At the edge of the solar system, Voyager 1 is 6.5 billion miles from Earth. Launched from Cape Canaveral in 1977, it encountered Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980. It now takes 9 hr, 36 min for its radio signal to reach Earth. The plan is for Voyager I to gather information while becoming the first craft to pass through the outermost part of the Sun’s magnetic field into interstellar space. The craft has enough power to operate until about 2020, when it should be almost 14 billion miles from Earth.

30 YEARS AGO — APRIL 20, 1978
Largest steel squeeze-cast part: This machined Patriot missile forward dome was squeeze cast by the Metalworking Group, IIT Research Institute. It’s believed to be the largest successful ly formed forged molten steel part to date by this method (over 60 lb, as ejected from the die). IITRI has pioneered this technology in the U.S. for the past 10 years. The method is a hybrid of casting an alloy and forging it while molten until it is solid. Such products are less expensive to make than conventional castings or forgings and have properties akin to quality forgings rather than weaker, porous castings.

50 YEARS AGO — APRIL 17, 1958
The Atomic Beetle, from General Electric Co., is a manned, self-propelled vehicle for remote servicing of all phases of nuclear-aircraft powerplants. I t contains 75,000 lb of lead and steel, has 22-in.-thick windows with visibility equal to that of a car windshield, and its 16-ft-long mechanical manipulators are attached to the cab, which can be elevated 15 ft and rotated 360°. Manipulator “hands” grip with a 200-lb force and have electrical outlets for power tools. Powerplant is a 750-hp engine that provides 10-mph speed and 80,000 lb of drawbar pull. Each pair of wheels is independently powered and steered.

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