Lightweight Composite/Hybrid Structures with Enhanced Properties

Period of Performance: 12/01/2011 - 09/01/2012


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Materials Research & Design
300 E. Swedesford Rd Array
Wayne, PA 19087
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Missouri University of Science & Technology
300 W. 12th Street
Rolla, MO 65409
Institution POC


ABSTRACT: Future hypersonic vehicles, like X-43 and X-51 derivatives and Falcon HTV-3, will require advanced strategies for thermal protection systems (TPS) and methods of structural integration. The goal in designing TPS for these types of high performance applications is to establish multi-mission reusable systems with reduced weight and increased performance that possess multifunctionality, e.g. both thermal protection and structural capability. Within the proposed Phase I effort, MR&D will perform a design and analysis trade study to develop an innovative highly-porous core for a structurally integrated TPS. X-aerogels will be used as the starting point for this innovative core, leading to a material with a very high level of porosity and good strength characteristics. Dr. Nicholas Leventis from the Missouri University of Science & Technology (MS&T), co-inventor of x-aerogels, will assist MR&D in the development of this innovative core material. Also within the Phase I effort, MS&T will fabricate test specimens of each individual layer for material property testing at Southern Research Institute (SRI) of Birmingham, AL. BENEFIT: The thermal protection system (TPS) is an important part of any hypersonic vehicle. The Air Force has recently made significant investments in the technology of structurally integrated TPS. Nevertheless, there is still much work to be done in optimizing materials and component designs for load bearing TPS. Load bearing TPS will significantly reduce the overall weight of a vehicle by no longer "moving out of the way and going along for the ride", but rather helping to carry the structural loads of the vehicle. TPS designs, primarily those associated with acreage TPS panels, will be the primary beneficiary of the proposed program. The success of this program will directly support the design of existing and future hypersonic vehicles.