Flexible Transpiration Cooled Thermal Protection System for Inflatable Atmospheric Capture and Entry Systems

Period of Performance: 01/01/2007 - 12/31/2007


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Andrews Space, Inc.
3415 South 116th Street, Suite 123
Tukwila, WA 98168
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Andrews Space, Inc. proposes an innovative transpiration cooled aerobrake TPS design that is thermally protective, structurally flexible, and lightweight. This innovative design will meet launch volume constraints and satisfy terminal aerobraking requirements. The approach will focus on transpiration cooling of a flexible material and employs preceramic polymers and active filler technologies as key features of the TPS design. The major hurdle to inflatable aerobrakes becoming reality is the development of a lightweight and structurally flexible TPS. Alternative designs have focused on complex multilayering to increase the effective emissivity of the material, whereas Andrews Space will focus on reducing the thickness, thus decreasing the overall system mass. By combining well understood materials with an innovative, flexible, transpiration cooled TPS, a realizable inflatable aerobrake system has been developed which shows up to 56% mass savings over traditional, rigid aeroshells and 23% over other leading designs.