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SpaceX Titanium Grid Fins Soar


Congratulations to my SpaceX friends and family for successfully flying titanium grid fins for the first time! The BulgariaSat1 mission showed the world the largest and most visible application of titanium on a SpaceX vehicle there's ever been. So exciting for the titanium world!

The material itself, Ti-6242, a grade developed specifically for high temperature aeroengine use, was a perfect choice to try to resist the high speed and temperature generated on re-entry. It's titanium plus 6% of aluminum, 2% tin, 4% zirconium and 2% molybdenum. It's a near-alpha alloy and these materials tend to have very good creep resistance and high temperature strength around the 1000-1100F mark. In fact there are other high temperature alloys that might have been used also include Ti-1100 or Ti-834 and derivatives. However Ti-6242 is off patent and widely commercially available and it's also a castable alloy.

I'm so so proud to have worked on this project during my time at SpaceX and will always hold a special place in my heart for this application. Big shout out to Daniel, David, Brandon, Sean, Matt and Ben of course for making this titanium dream come true. With titanium grid fins, SpaceX vehicles will light up the solar system! Occupy Mars!

Writing: Eliana Fu


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