Multifunctional Thermal Protection System for Future Space Transportation Vehicles
Current and developmental thermal protection system (TPS) materials severely limit the flight path and thus the mission flexibility of existing and future space transportation vehicles (STV), including reusable launch vehicles (RLV). TPS are essential, but also add parasitic weight rather than providing both structural functionality and thermal protection. Multifunctional TPS with structural capability would be highly desirable. TPS are also subject to severely limited life due to rapid failure or need for replacement if the outer surface or coating suffers damage. As a result, self-healing TPS would be substantially beneficial or could even be essential if self-repair is needed for mission survivability. Multifunctional and self-healing TPS must also be fabricable as large-scale and cost-effective panels if they are to be more widely used for acreage type applications. The objective of the proposed project is to overcome the known limitations of current insulating materials (e.g. AETB, FRCI, SIRCA) and to further enhance capabilities over TPS that are currently under development by demonstrating the feasibility of an innovative, multifunctional and self-healing TPS suited for varied STV and related applications. The unique TPS proposed in this project will provide an unequaled combination of structural and thermal performance, large cross-section fabricability and low fabrication cost. The proposed approach builds on developments already initiated and demonstrated in complementary efforts but adds multiple innovative features. Specifically, the new TPS will combine a carbon aerogel-filled, carbon foam core structure with an innovative, lower cost and larger scale aerogel infiltration method and self-healing carbon/carbon facesheets to produce a highly enhanced and more cost-effective TPS. Previous work has shown that the carbon aerogel-filled, carbon foam core structure provides low thermal conductivity and high temperature capability.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Principal Investigator:Jerry W. Brockmeyer
12173 Montague Street Pacoima, CA 91331
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