L&L Special Furnace Co. shipped a series of box furnaces to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. L&L has worked with NASA on this project since 1997. The current production requirement called for 10 model XLE3648 furnaces supplied in a six- to eight-week delivery time frame. The primary purpose of the furnaces is to slump glass. The glass will eventually be used for telescopes in space. L&L’s XLE series furnaces have many control options available, including ramp/soak program controls, temperature recorders and SCR power controls. Process accessories such as inert atmosphere blanketing and manual or powered venting add to the versatility of the XLE series.

A piece of glass is placed on a mandrel inside the furnace and heated to 1400°F. The glass is then removed from the furnace and covered in a reflective gold filament to form a mirror. The mirror is then used in conjunction with others to form a mirror assembly that is placed on a telescope and deployed into space. The telescope is used to detect and study X-rays emitted from black holes, dark matter, neutron stars and other phenomena. The critical requirement is to produce in excess of 300 mirrors per month to meet the required 16,000 mirrors total.