As people around the world watched Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins launch themselves into history as the crew of Apollo 11 in July 1969, a piece of Kokomo went up with them.
Haynes International has made metal alloys [called Hastelloy] and other material that date back to World War I. But it's Haynes' participation in NASA's space age that is so intriguing.
"We have been involved with the space exploration all the way up through today," Charles Sponaugle said during a recent telephone interview. He worked for Haynes at the time of the launch in 1969.
"Our alloys are used on just about every space mission, and particular to Apollo 11, there were a number of our alloys that we manufactured that were used in several different places," he said.
Most of those alloys were used on the Saturn V rocket that was attached to Apollo 11 upon launch, Sponaugle said, such as the rocket nozzles. He described the rocket nozzles as "those things you see sticking out from the back end of the rocket," and he also stated that those were made with Haynes Hastalloy C alloys.
"They [nozzles] were about 11 feet in diameter," Sponaugle said. "And they were also about 10 to 12 feet tall. And they were all made of Hastalloy C."
The second largest portion of Haynes products used on Saturn V were the turbo pumps. Because the rocket was fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, Sponaugle said the object consumed about 4 tons of propellant per second. With each engine producing over a million pounds of thrust, the rocket burned through a lot of fuel.
"In order to get that fuel into the combustion area, you had to have very large pumps, very powerful pumps," Sponaugle noted. "And those pumps were driven by a gas turbine engine, which a lot of our alloys are in. So the turbine pump itself used Hastelloy X in the combustion cans that's part of the turbine engine.
"A combustion can is part of the gas turbine engine where the fuel is actually burned, and that engine is turbocharged," he said. "There were Haynes alloys in the turbo chargers that were used in the gas turbine engines that ran the turbo pumps to pump the fuel into the rocket nozzles."
But it wasn't just the Saturn V rocket that had some Haynes alloys in it, Sponaugle said. The lunar module had its share too.
"The command module, the service module and the lunar module itself, all three of those had thrusters," Sponaugle noted. "These are very tiny and only about 2 or 3 inches in diameter. But all of those thrusters were made out of Hastelloy B. The lunar module ascent engine was made from that alloy too."
It's a little piece of history created right in the heart of Kokomo, Indiana, Sponaugle noted.
"Haynes is a fairly unique company, and Kokomo is justified in being proud of it," he said. "We weren't the only ones doing something, but we were doing our part. The things we make, people almost never see. Those parts are inside an engine, but they're being used in very critical applications. So for me, that's the fun part is knowing the history behind them."