Images courtesy of NASA
Along with observers across the country, the engineering team at Litespeed Bicycles cheered the successful landing of NASA’s Mars Rover, Curiosity, when it touched down. The Chattanooga-based bicycle manufacturer – long known for their ability to craft and form titanium tubing – was instrumental in the fabrication of the framework that supports the combined wheels.
Unlike its predecessors, Curiosity utilized its wheels as landing gear rather than airbags when a rocket-powered descent lowered it directly onto the Martian surface via a tether; the maneuver had been dubbed the “Seven Minutes of Terror” by media and NASA engineers for the precarious and thrilling nature of the throttle from 13,000 mph at atmosphere entry to surface descent.
Here’s an artist’s rendering of how the landing took place:
In addition, the new precision landing gear allowed NASA to practically pinpoint a site compared to previous explorations. And, Curiosity’s titanium rocker-bogie suspension system will prevent it from tipping while navigating the rocky terrain during its anticipated 668 day visit. Independent six-wheel drive and cleats provide traction. Curiosity can also swerve and turn in place a full 360 degrees.
In 2013, American Bicycle Group, owners of Litespeed, will introduce a fully re-vamped titanium line of bicycles, the T-Series, fabricated in the same manufacturing facility, with the same technology, as the Curiosity gear supplied by Litespeed. American Bicycle Group’s products have been honored with both the coveted EuroBike Design Award and Triathlon America’s Most Innovative Product Award.
Finally, I can’t write up a post about Curiosity without mentioning my all-time favorite Twitter user of the week: @SarcasticRover.