Parts of Genesis robotic space probe visit Port Towsend

PORT TOWNSEND — Some parts on the Genesis robotic space probe made a side trip to Port Townsend long before being poised for space this week.

Hundreds of small industrial ceramic parts not much larger than a thumbnail were supplied by Marketech International Inc. The Port Townsend firm arranged for the parts to be manufactured for NASA.

President Jerry Spieckerman said Marketech contracts with manufacturing companies throughout the world to provide engineered ceramic components for industrial applications.

“They came to us through our Web site,”‘ Spieckerman said. “This particular piece has high voltage applied to it. They're very good electrical resistors.”

Marketech assisted NASA with the design of the components and selection of appropriate materials, then worked with several manufacturing companies to manufacture ceramic and metal parts, and have them brazed together.

Spieckerman said the company provided approximately 600 resistors in all, including two test sets, for close to $50,000. That's small potatoes for the $259 million project, but all in a day's work for Marketech.

Genesis is due to be launched on its three-year, 20 million-mile round trip this afternoon from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Liftoff was scheduled for Monday, but was delayed over concern about a power-supply device in the spacecraft's navigation system.

Genesis will travel beyond Earth's magnetic field to a spot 1 million miles away from the planet, spending about 36 months gathering bits of solar material hurtling by at more than 1 million mph.

This full report appears in today's Peninsula News, on sale throughout Clallam and Jefferson counties. Click onto “Subscribe” to get your PDN delivered to your home or office.

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