When Curiosity landed successfully on Mars Monday, it was a triumph for all those at Nasa and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, but it was also a big deal at Yardney Technical Products, the battery manufacturer that's in the process of moving its operations to South Councy Trail in East Greenwich.
“You have to look at it from this standpoint: the battery is the heart of the machine. If the heart doesn’t work, the Rover doesn’t work," said Richard Scibelli, Yardney's CEO. "Everything we make has a must-work requirement."
Yardney, which is retrofitting the former On Semiconductor plant at 2000 South County Trail, specializes in lithion batteries. Curiosity is not the first Mars Rover to utilize Yardney batteries. In fact, the original Mars Rover, expected to last only 90 days, is still functioning on Mars, 8 years and 218 days after it landed.
"We demonstrated it with the original Rover," Scibelli said, of the Yardney battery success. He said that success was what prompted NASA to return to them for Curiosity.
"It was a very successful situation and we've got a great bunch of people who put a lot into it," said Scibelli. Yardney workers may not have been together for the landing, but they were paying attention, he said. "It was quite an event.
Yardney continues to move its operations to East Greenwich. The work is slow because the manufacturing process needs to be replicated exactly, Scibelli said. He said he expects the plant to be fully moved in to the EG space by Nov. 1.
For local impressions of the Mars Rover and Yardney's contribution, check out this ABC6 story.