More than 30,000 small, leading-edge companies — the drivers of innovation in the real economy — contributed critical technology and components to the 1-ton Curiosity rover. Aviation Week today lists a sampling of these, spread throughout the country, which are undoubtedly as proud of their contribution to this triumph as the controllers at JPL. As Aviation Week notes, public recognition most often goes to the big companies that are the prime contractors for these projects, but tens of thousands of innovators actually make them possible.
* Adcole Corp, in Marlborough, MA, supplied Sun sensor assemblies MSL used during its cruise to Mars
* Fiber Materials Inc. in Biddeford, Maine, manufactured the heat sheild materials that protected Curiosity during descent
* Pioneer Aerospace in South Windsor, CT, built the parachute
* Tapemation, in Calif., made Curiosity's wheels
* Litespeed Titanium, in Chattanooga, produced the tubing for its suspension system
* Communications systems were developed with L-3 Cincinnati Electronics of Mason, OH
Other contributors include
* Aeroflex Inc., Plainview, New York
* Emcore Corp., Albuquerque
* Ocean Optics, Dunedin, FL
All of these innovative companies tackled engineering challenges, presented by a mission that was made up of mostly "firsts."