Local Company is Part of the Mission to Mars

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

In a few days, Forest City Gear will have something to brag about. By Wednesday or Thursday, the Mars rover is expected to roll off its lander and onto the surface of Mars. That's all possible with a special gear made right here in the Stateline. Forest City gear is a guarded secret in our community, but not worldwide as the company has about 900 customers. Now NASA is on their list of clients.

When the "Spirit" moves, this gear is the reason. There are six of these titanium part's right now on Mars. Forest City Gear President Fred Young says, “the true test of the gear is when it rolls off and travels on Mars’ landscape.” Within the rover's wheel legs a part that only takes Forest City Gear in Roscoe about 15 minutes to make. For the 34 employees this gear is one of the most interesting parts they've ever machined.

Being a part of this mission to Mars is a feat most wouldn't even attempt to manufacture. David King an engineer from Delphi Automotive says, “90 percent of gear shops would not do this.” In fact engineers like David marvel over the workmanship saying this is a true example of pushing technology to the limits.

And though the price tag of this rover gear is about $20,000 a piece. There's more to this business than the $6 million of sales in 2003. It's keeping the jobs and products in America.

President Fred Young tells 23 News that the key to keeping his company running is to re-invest. Also working with other local companies is a goal. For example, the cutter for this rover gear is made by Gleason who is out of Loves Park.


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