Thermal Protection with Ablative Aromatic Thermosetting Copolyester Composites

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


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

CU Aerospace
301 North Neil St. Array
Champaign, IL 61820
Principal Investigator


The primary objective of CU Aerospace s (CUA) Phase I work will be to fabricate and test aromatic thermosetting copolyester (ATSP) composites for use as ablative thermal protection systems for next generation reentry bodies. Unfortunately, there has been little work put into the development of improved ablative materials over the last 30 years, most of the current TPS are based on new designs using the same heritage materials (some of which are no longer being manufactured). The synthetic development of novel ATSP was a major innovation in the field of polymer science. Only recently has this material been considered as a viable ablative due to its high temperature stability and excellent composite mechanical properties especially due to the liquid crystalline nature of the polymer, which allows a matching of CTE between fiber and matrix to diminish residual stresses. CUA will carry out a systematic study of the mechanical/thermal properties of ATSP composites and our major aerospace team partner will provide plasma jet testing for this project along with data analysis and evaluation against current ablative materials including carbon/phenolic.