Nanostructured Ablative Thermal Protection System

Period of Performance: 05/23/2014 - 11/24/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

TDA Research, Inc.
12345 W. 52nd Ave. Array
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Principal Investigator


Ablative thermal protection system (TPS) materials are widely used in spacecraft and missiles that re-enter the atmosphere. Since they constitute a significant portion of the re-entry body s mass, improving their performance could greatly reduce mission cost or increase payload. The ablative TPS in the Trident reentry vehicle is based on a char-forming composite of woven carbon fibers and phenolic resin. However, recent advances in carbon materials allow for innovative structures that make better use of the ablator s weight and volume. We are proposing to develop an altered carbon structure for phenolic-impregnated ablators that takes advantage of modern carbon materials, thereby delivering performance increases with minimal technical risk. The newer carbons will increase the mechanical stability of the ablator without increasing its density or thermal conductivity. Our proposed manufacturing process will also enable three-dimensional control over the ablator s structure, realizing additional performance benefits.