Stronger Than Steel:

An Air Force-industry team has succeeded in producing a stronger, lighter, low-cost payload fairing—the protective cover that shelters satellites at the top of an expendable launch vehicle and that gives the ELV an aerodynamic shape. Air Force Research Lab’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland AFB, N.M., teamed with Boeing Phantom Works in Seattle to create the Advanced Grid-Stiffened composite payload fairing, comprising carbon fibers, epoxy forming beams, and an outer skin that maintains a “strength that is, pound per pound, stronger than steel,” reports Air Force journalist Michael Kleiman. The AGS fairing was used for the December 2006 launch of the TacSat-2.