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Flexible, High-Temperature Polyimide/Urea Aerogels

Cross-linked polyimide/urea aerogels are potential candidates for insulation for clothing, wrap-around items such as hoses, and refrigeration units. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Cross-linked silica-based aerogels with polymeric materials, as well as incorporating a flexible linkage into the underlying metal oxide, have been proven to improve strength and resilience over their native, or non-cross-linked, counterparts without adversely affecting porosity and density. In this invention, high-temperature, stable, all-organic polyimide aerogels are prepared as reacting linear polyimide chains with a functional monomer to create branchings that are further room-temperature-cured with multifunctional isocyanate to form a three-dimensional network.

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Multilayer Insulation Systems

Applications exist where cryogenic fluids or liquefied gases are required, and in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), power transmission in big cities, food freezing, and blood banks. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Cryogenic fluid management (CFM) is a critical technical area that is needed for the successful development of future space exploration. A key challenge is the storability of LH2, LCH4, and LOX propellants for long durations. The storage tanks must be well insulated to prevent over-pressurization and venting, which lead to unacceptable propellant losses for long-duration missions to Mars and beyond.

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Colorimetric Indicator for Detection of AF-M315E

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida An easy and instant method of detection was needed for AF-M315E, a “green” propellant that produces very little vapor. This makes it hard to detect by smell or other active sensors.

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Oriented Nanofibers Embedded in a Polymer Matrix

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A method of forming a composite of embedded nanofibers in a polymer matrix with a high degree of alignment has been created using a nanofiber continuous fiber (NCF) system. This innovation incorporates nanofibers in a plastic matrix forming agglomerates, and then uniformly distributes them by exposing the agglomerates to hydrodynamic stresses that force the agglomerates to break apart. In combination, or additionally, elongational flow is used to achieve small diameters and alignment.

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Low-Scatter Starshade Edges

This technology has applications in flexible optical masks, apertures, and encoders where sharp edges and material robustness are important. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A starshade occulter is a large space structure whose shape is specially designed to produce a diffraction pattern in starlight that can aid a telescope in direct imaging of exoplanets. The diffraction pattern produces extremely high-contrast dark regions in the starshade’s shadow on the order of 10-9 or 10-10. To do so, the edge shape of the structure must be held to extremely tight tolerances. In addition, potentially obscuring glint light from the Sun must be minimized to prevent loss of contrast.

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Processing and Damage Tolerance of Continuous Carbon Fiber Composites Containing Puncture-Self-Healing Thermoplastic Matrix

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The initiation and propagation of damage ultimately results in failure of aircraft structural components. Often, impact damage is difficult to identify in-service, and hence design of continuous carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite structure involves up to a 50% knockdown in the undamaged failure strength allowable. If damage is identified in a composite structure, the vehicle must be grounded for structural repair. This involves the grinding away of damaged regions and drilled holes to secure patches. By providing a polymer matrix with the ability to self-heal after impact damage is incurred, vehicle safety is greatly improved by increasing the design allowable for strength, resulting in more efficient CFRP structure.

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Advanced Supported Liquid Membranes for CO‚2 Control in EVA Applications

This sorbent can be used in the capture of CO2 from coal-fired power plants and other power generation facilities. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas NASA has a clear need to develop new technology in support of its future goals, including missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the possible development of lunar outposts, and the eventual exploration of Mars. As these missions develop, it is anticipated that crewmembers will spend extended time outside the spacecraft and established habitats, requiring new, robust, lightweight life support systems for extravehicular activities (EVAs). One area that is critical to life support systems is the control of CO2, and new spacesuits must be able to accommodate longer EVAs without increasing the size or weight of the current portable life support system (PLSS).

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