Press Release

Pittsburgh-area Native and NASA Astronaut Commander Inspects Latrobe Specialty Steel’s Production of Space-worthy Alloy

By SpaceRef Editor
August 10, 2009
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Pittsburgh-area native and veteran astronaut with more than a year’s time in space, Col. Mike Fincke will examine the processes and quality control systems at Latrobe Specialty Steel (LSS) on Tuesday, August 11(th). Colonel Fincke will explain to the LSS employees that the lives of the NASA astronauts depend on the cleanliness of the vacuum remelted steel LSS makes for manned space vehicles both past and future.

Astronaut Fincke will tour parts of the LSS mill for vacuum remelted, space-worthy, life-critical steel. Using green technology, LSS makes all of its steel using recycled material as the core ingredient rather than iron ore resulting in 66 percent fewer emissions. After the tour, Astronaut Fincke will talk about NASA, manned space exploration and thank the LSS employees for their dedication to the highest quality production standards. Then, LSS employees will ask Col. Fincke questions about his astronaut experiences.

Daniel Hennessy, LSS’s VP for manufacturing who will lead the tour said, “Here is a unique chance for our employees to see a user of our extremely pure, aerospace steel and understand why lives depend on what they do daily.”

Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK), the producer of the space shuttle Reusable Solid Rocket Motors and the Ares I first stage, sponsors the visit. ATK specifies LSS Grade D6AC steel for the Ares program and audits LSS’s manufacturing process for adherence to aerospace guidelines.

Astronaut Mike Fincke grew up in Emsworth and joined NASA in 1996. He served as back-up crewmember for International Space Station (ISS) Expeditions 4 and 6 as well as back-up commander for ISS Expeditions 13 and 16. He is qualified to fly as a left-seat Flight Engineer (co-pilot) on the Russian Soyuz TM and TMA spacecraft. As the NASA Space Station science officer and flight engineer for Expedition 9, Colonel Fincke spent six-months aboard the ISS continuing ISS science operations, maintaining Station systems, and performing four spacewalks. The mission concluded with undocking from the station and safe landing back in Kazakhstan in 2004. Expedition 18 launched from Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft. As the ISS Commander, Fincke and his 3-person crew helped prepare the station for future 6-person crews and hosted the Space Shuttle crews of STS-126 and STS-119. The Expedition 18 mission concluded with undocking from the station and safe landing back in Kazakhstan on April 8, 2009. Astronaut Fincke has logged more than 365 days in space.

Latrobe Specialty Steel, headquartered in Latrobe, PA, has been in continual business in the same location since 1913 and supplying the aerospace and defense sectors since 1958. The firm employs approximately 800 people. Find additional information about Latrobe Specialty Steel at or contact Lisa Pierce at 724-532-6324 (

SpaceRef staff editor.