Aerospace industry has always been identified with complex technology and 100% reliability. Materials used are selected following very strict quality criteria because the slightest defect could ruin the whole project.
As we published in our magazine Acero Inoxidable no. 73, United Launch Alliance, LLC has recently launched Atlas V rocket devoted to exploring the Martian upper atmosphere and investigating the history of water on the surface.
Centaur is a liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen fueled vehicle. In its upper stage, 10 ft in diameter and 41.5 ft in length, propellant tanks are constructed of pressure-stabilized, corrosion resistant austenitic stainless steel AISI 301, manufactured by North American Stainless (NAS) in Kentucky.
This grade of stainless steel is used due to its high resistance to low temperature and high yield strength, which make it ideal for cryogenic applications. The first 130 tons were delivered in coils of 940 mm width and 2 - 2.5 mm thickness.