NASA is using a massive friction stir welding tool at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to build its first flight structure for the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), after cranking out two test copies to validate the process. The Vertical Assembly Center (VAC) uses friction-stir welding, a process that heats adjacent metal parts to the consistency of putty so they can bond with greater strength and less weight than traditional welding. A steel spindle spins between the parts ...

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