Aerospace Metals and The Hubble Space Telescope

As experts in the process of electroless nickel plating and diffused nickel plating, the staff at NiTEC like to keep up to date on the various uses of nickel around the globe. As nickel electroforming was used as the plating service of choice on parts of the Hubble Space Telescope, we thought it only right to feature it in a blog post!

The Hubble Space Telescope was carried into orbit in 1990 by a space shuttle and remains there today taking pictures of space. The HST provides scientists and astronomers with exceptional images from space that has contributed a great deal to improving our understanding of the universe.

Named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble, the HST has led to many breakthroughs in the field of astrophysics. Built by NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency, the HST is operated by the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Perhaps the most memorable outcome of the images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope was the ability to accurately determine the rate of expansion of the universe.

Nickel electroforming has had an important role in the manufacturing of parts for the HST due to the ability of the process to meet very exact dimensional specifications. The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) consists of a slit wheel that is made up of segments. These were produced by nickel electroforming, and then vacuum-laminated to stainless steel wheel segments.

Obviously a procedure such as this requires high levels of precision and accuracy. Multilayer electroforms with a minute tolerance were required, and were achieved using this process. The application of nickel electroforming has made a big contribution to the success of the Hubble Space Telescope and the high precision obtained by nickel electroforming has made it possible to produce enhanced coronographic HST images.

For more information about the ways in which nickel can be used, and corrosion protection aerospace metals, vvisit the NiTEC website at http://www.electroless-nickel-plating.co.uk