Aerogel-based SRM case insulation as a low-weight cork replacement
Small Business Information
ASPEN AEROGELS, INC.
184 CEDAR HILL STREET, MARLBOROUGH, MA, 01752
AbstractThe US Air Force seeks to developg new materials and technologies to reduce the cost of space flight. The IHPRPT program has the stated mission of doubling rocket propulsion capabilities by the year 2010. Incremental system design and fabrication cost improvements will not be sufficient to achieve these aggressive goals. Overall system improvement will depend on the effective marriage of innovative material solutions and low cost manufacturing/integration in every conceivable region of the spacecraft. Cork sheeting is generally used in SRM applications because of its low thermal conductivity and desirable charring properties. Although an effective insulation in this application, the relatively high density (28 lb/ft3) makes it an ideal candidate for replacement with a lower cost, lower density material. Phase I results established that aerogel composite insulation could save thousands of pounds of parasitic insulation weight versus conventional P-50 sheet cork for each launch, significantly increasing mass fraction. With team partner ATK, Phase II will optimize the aerogel formulation, encapsulation, and attachment systems to pass all of the rigorous testing required for inclusion into the SRM, and be ready for implementation into ATK's IHPRPT motor.
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