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High Toughness Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) for non-ballistic/high Mach Vehicles


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials, Materials, Air Platform, Air Platform, Space Platforms, Space Platforms

OBJECTIVE: Develop a new process of forming thermal protective coverings for non-ballistic/high Mach vehicles.

DESCRIPTION: This topic seeks to demonstrate the production of thermal protection materials which conform to complex shapes and are low weight while providing high resistance to erosion and impact damage.Thermal protection materials today require long manufacturing times and have a large scrap rate due to manufacturing issues.These materials are also prone to erosion and interlaminate blistering under high Mach flight conditions.The government is interested in developing thin shell (1/4 - 3/4 inch thick) Carbon-Carbon (C-C) TPS materials with high toughness and erosion resistance.Potential material solutions may include through shell reinforcements, including stitched laminates, chopped fiber, or carbon nanotube reinforced composites, or other methods for reducing surface failure in TPS panels.The vendor must develop a process with high repeatability and low statistical variation in performance while matching or improving thermal, strength, and weight characteristics of the current TPS state of the art.The material solution must be faster and cheaper to produce than current TPS solutions and have a low scrap rate.

PHASE I: Develop a methodology for providing through thickness reinforcement to shell TPS structures that produces high strength/high density structures with a short manufacturing time.Demonstrate the process on a sample >1/4 inch thick and >1/4 ft^2.Test the material properties of the sample.Document the process and the resulting material properties.

PHASE II: Mature the process for forming larger, production representative, C-C shells with through thickness reinforcement.Demonstrate a reduced production timeline for full scale parts (<6 months for fully densified parts).Produce sample structures for arc testing and mechanical properties testing and test them at appropriate high Mach test facilities.Demonstrate ablation performance and characterize material properties and performance of the reinforced TPS shells.Document the process and materials.

PHASE III: Transition the manufacturing process to a program of record to build prototype panels for use in test flights.Collect required performance data to support certification of C-C parts for use in production systems.Demonstrate <10% scrap rate for full scale (>3ft^2) parts.

KEYWORDS: TPS, C-C, Thermal Protection System, carbon-carbon 2D laminate, manufacturing, high Mach


1. Congressional Research Service Report 45811.Background and Issues for Congress. Ultra-high temperature ceramic composite

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