As technology advances, the demands of the aerospace industry continue to evolve. This is especially true for spacecraft. In the past, spacecraft have been reserved for scientific research and government-backed initiatives. However, with the rise of companies like SpaceX who are seeking to turn space travel into a commercial offering, it’s more important than ever for spacecraft to be manufactured with the highest levels of safety and performance in mind. That’s why manufacturers of spacecraft metal components place so much importance on working with metals used in spacecraft to withstand high temperature.

Temperature resistance is obviously incredibly important in spacecraft, particularly when temperatures during re-entry can get up 2600° F and combustion temperatures in a rocket can exceed 3500° K/5800° F. For that reason, it’s critical to have metal parts that can perform in and withstand these temperatures.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the metals used in spacecraft to withstand high temperatures and where you can expect to see them in action.

The Metals Used in Spacecraft to Withstand High Temperature


Titanium is one of the most valued metals used in spacecraft to withstand high temperature. It has numerous properties that allow it to maintain performance standards under extreme conditions. These properties include:

  • High Strength-to-Weight Ratio: Titanium is as strong as steel but much lighter, making it ideal for aerospace applications where weight savings are crucial.
  • Corrosion Resistance: Titanium has excellent resistance to corrosion which is essential for long-term durability in various environments, including those often encountered by spacecraft applications.
  • High Melting Point: With a melting point of about 1,668°C (3,034°F), titanium is able to maintain its strength and integrity at high temperatures.
  • Biocompatibility: Although more relevant to medical applications, titanium’s biocompatibility ensures that it does not react adversely with other materials, which is beneficial in complex aerospace assemblies.
  • Low Thermal Expansion: Titanium’s low thermal expansion coefficient means it does not expand or contract significantly with temperature changes, maintaining structural integrity. This is critical in aerospace applications.

Titanium is a versatile material with uses in various spacecraft applications. For instance, it is widely used in structural components like frames, bulkheads, and fuselage and skin panels. It’s also frequently used in hot sections of engines and is ideal for turbine blades and compressor blades. And finally, titanium is one of the foremost choices for the heatshields that protect spacecraft during re-entry.


Next in our list of metals used in spacecraft to withstand high temperature is aluminum. Along with its temperature resistance, aluminum also exhibits a number of other properties that make it highly desirable for spacecraft applications. A few of these include:

  • Lightweight: Aluminum is much lighter than many other metals, making it ideal for applications where reducing weight is crucial.
  • Good Strength-to-Weight Ratio: While not as strong as titanium or steel, aluminum’s strength relative to its weight is sufficient for many aerospace applications.
  • Corrosion Resistance: Aluminum naturally forms a thin oxide layer that protects it from corrosion, which is beneficial for long-term durability.
  • Conductivity: Aluminum has good electrical and thermal conductivity, making it useful for certain types of spacecraft components.
  • Ductility and Malleability: Aluminum can be easily formed into various shapes, which is advantageous for manufacturing complex parts.
  • Recyclability: Highly recyclable, aluminum can be an advantageous choice in terms of sustainability and cost.

Similar to titanium, aluminum is used in various spacecraft applications. It’s a common choice for structural components due to its strength-to-weight ratio, including fuselage, wings, frames, and ribs. It’s also an excellent choice for components in fuel systems, such as fuel tanks, and for thermal management systems (think heat sinks and radiators).

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel certainly makes the list of metals used in spacecraft to withstand high temperature. It’s a material with excellent mechanical properties that make it ideal for many spacecraft applications. Some standout characteristics include:

  • High Strength: Stainless steel offers high tensile strength, making it suitable for structural components that need to withstand significant loads.
  • Corrosion Resistance: One of the defining characteristics of stainless steel is its resistance to corrosion and oxidation, which is crucial for durability in various environments.
  • Temperature Resistance: Stainless steel can maintain its properties at both high and low temperatures, making it ideal for spacecraft that encounter extreme thermal conditions.
  • Durability and Toughness: Stainless steel is known for its toughness and ability to withstand impact and fatigue, essential for reliable performance in aerospace applications.

Stainless steel can be found in almost everything from spacecraft structural components and engine components to fluid systems and instrumentation. Some components that are commonly made with stainless steel include load-bearing components, combustion chambers, cryogenic fuel tanks, pipes and tubes in fluid systems, and housings and enclosures for sensitive instruments.

Copper for Thermal Conductivity

While not as strong as the other three metals, copper is the undisputed winner when it comes to thermal conductivity when compared to titanium, aluminum, and stainless steel. It also has a significantly higher electrical conductivity, making it ideal for a number of applications related to electrical work and thermal management.

Copper is commonly found in various spacecraft applications such as heat sinks, radiators, and heat exchangers in thermal management systems; wiring, cables, connectors, and contacts in electrical systems; rocket engine components and cooling systems; and thermal conductors for sensors in instrumentation.

Get Metal Parts Designed for the Demands of Aerospace Applications from Advantage Metal

Advantage Metal Products is a one-stop metal manufacturing shop for a number of critical industries, including the aerospace industry. We offer precision metal machining and fabrication services alongside a number of post-production services including assembly with welding, engineer support, inspection, and project management.

We’ve been a trusted supplier for businesses in a range of industries for more than 30 years. Our collaborative approach and commitment to quality mean that we aim to provide you with metal components that meet your highest expectations.

Ready to get started with a metal manufacturing partner that has experience working with the needs of aerospace applications? Connect with our team today.