Pluto the dwarf planet had its day Tuesday, and one South Florida tech company basked in the glow.
Heico Corp., with offices in Hollwood and Miami, has a direct connection to NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft that reached Pluto in a celebrated fly by Tuesday morning.
Two of the company's subsidiaries — 3D Plus in France and VPT, Inc. in Virginia —supplied parts for the mission.
3D PLUS, based in Buc, France, supplied memory modules for the data recorder that will store information and photos of Pluto.
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VPT, based in Blacksburg, Va., provided power converters and electromagnetic interference filters for the spacecraft, which was launched aboard a rocket from Cape Canaveral in 2006.
“It’s no small feat to have something last in space for 10, 15 years like that,” said Dan Sable, chief executive of VPT. “The space environment is not so friendly.”
Sable said Tuesday’s encounter on the far edge of the solar system was cause for celebration for everyone involved.
“I love it; it’s always very exciting when we have products that are going to all strange places of the world — or the universe,” he said. “Mercury, Venus, Mars, now Pluto. I always get a thrill out of it.”
An electrical engineer who earned his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in spacecraft power electronics, Sable started VPT about 22 years ago. Heico acquired it in 2009.
The company, which deals in aviation, defense, space, medical, telecommunications and electronics products, acquired 3D Plus in 2011.
Victor Mendelson, Heico co-president, said he planned to be “glued to the computer” Tuesday night when more data was expected from New Horizons.
“It’s thrilling to be part of these very difficult and historic missions and to support the space community,” he said.