Lightweight Hybrid Ablator/Aerogel Insulator for SM-3 TSRM, Phase II

Period of Performance: 10/20/2016 - 10/19/2018


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

12173 Montague Street Array
Pacoima, CA 91331
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Advanced lightweight ablative materials are needed to provide additional performance gains for next-generation ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) interceptors. The interceptor third stage, in particular, will benefit substantially from a reduction in inert weight, which enables increased missile stack velocity. Operational targets for the interceptor third-stage rocket motor (TSRM), and for other next-generation multi-pulse motors for MDA, Air Force, and Navy missile applications, require decreased inert mass to increase velocity at burnout. In the Phase I project, Ultramet established the feasibility of utilizing aerogel-filled open-cell foam for divert and attitude control system (DACS) valve manifold insulators. Analysis showed that the insulator would reduce the valve body temperature and system weight significantly when used as a secondary insulator behind a primary insulating material. Based on those results, a more immediate and direct application for the material system was identified for Phase II development, specifically within a 21-inch tactical boost motor under development by Orbital ATK for the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Future Naval Capability (FNC) TSRM. In the Phase II project, aerogel-filled foam will be utilized behind carbon/phenolic ablator-filled foam as a hybrid ablator/aerogel TSRM exit cone insulator. In conjunction with design and analysis at Orbital ATK and properties characterization at Southern Research, this material system will be optimized to minimize thermal conductivity and system mass in order to maximize motor performance and burnout velocity.