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Recticel (Belgium) makes key rocket parts for Elon Musk

During its annual general meeting, thermal insulation and foams specialist Recticel highlighted its contribution to the Falcon Heavy rocket, developed by Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturing company SpaceX. Recticel has its headquarters in Brussels and operates four state-of-the-art production sites in Flanders.

“Our product insulates the interior of the rocket cabin to safeguard it against sound vibrations,” said Olivier Chapelle, CEO of Recticel, while pointing at the black panels that displayed during the company’s annual general meeting. “That way, the onboard satellites are carefully protected during takeoff.”

"Falcon Heavy Demo Mission - Payload" by Official SpaceX Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Made-to-fit in outer space

When conducting test flights, aerospace companies usually launch a piece of concrete or steel into the atmosphere to simulate the weight of the rocket’s payload. In that case, there’s no need for insulation. However, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, likes to do things differently. Instead, Musk decided to launch a Tesla roadster into outer space, requiring top-notch insulation. That’s where Belgium-based Recticel came in, providing a custom-made foam rubber solution to help fulfil the idiosyncratic CEO’s childhood dream.

Hydrophobic version underway

Recticel is already working on a successor for the black panels that were used during the Heavy Falcon launch. “We’re developing a hydrophobic version to keep rocket parts afloat in case they drop into the ocean during test launches,” concluded Olivier Chapelle. “After all, reuse and recycling are major priorities for SpaceX.”

About Belgium and Flanders

With Dutch as its official language, Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen) is the northern region of Belgium. The capital of both Belgium and Flanders is Brussels.

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Reported by
5 June 2018

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