LI company plays key role in stunning images taken from NASA's Mars rover
NASA's new Mars rover Perseverance has been sending back breathtaking new pictures -- and help from a Long Island company has been part of making that mission possible.
Going back to 1969, it was a proud moment for Long Island when the lunar module landed on the moon since it was designed and built on Long Island at Grumman in Bethpage.
In 2021, it was Sector Microwave's turn, a Deer Park company you may have never even heard of. Among the many things they do is produce switches used in spacecraft and satellites.
There are seven of those switches on Perseverance, one of which allowed the photos and videos of Mars to be seen on Earth.
"This product takes probably about a year to build. It's six months to put together and then it's six months to test because it's got to work," says Bill Nelson, of Sector Microwave. "All sorts of run-in tests to make sure the components work because nobody's going to fix it in space, right?"
One of the switches on the Perseverance rover is sending pictures and videos of the planet to another switch that's on a satellite that's been circling Mars for the last 15 years. That satellite then sends the images to Earth.
Vic Nelson, the 96-year-old founder of Sector and Bill's father, says the switches were his design and they include a couple of patents. At 50, Vic lost his job and hard to start from scratch and open a business. It's now launched to heights he never dreamed of.
The Deer Park company is said to have more devices in outer space than any other company in the world.
Over decades, Sector Microwave has built about 3,000 switches for use in space. They've been on all five of the rovers which have landed on Mars, including Perseverance.
Bill Nelson says all of the employees share enormous pride in creating a product that made such an impact.