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Method for Manufacturing a Thin Film Structural System

Applications include Earth- and space-based inflatable structures, and chemical and radiation sensors. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a technology that uses commercially available additive print manufacturing to add various levels of structural hierarchy to thin-film surfaces. The approach adds very little mass to thin films, but provides substantial performance enhancements, such as increased damage tolerance to tearing and ripping. NASA developed this technology to provide new and improved ways to produce robust, ultra-lightweight space structures such as solar sails, solar shades, and antennas. Beyond space applications, the technology is well suited for other thin-film applications.

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Integrated Ceramic Matrix Composite-Carbon/Carbon Structures for Large Rocket Engine Nozzles and Nozzle Extensions

The material system could be used in rocket propulsion components in which temperature, environmental reactivity, and economy are increasingly demanding. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Low-cost access to space demands durable, cost-effective, efficient, and low-weight propulsion systems. Key components include boost and upper stage rocket engine nozzles and extensions. Nozzle material options include ablatives, actively cooled alloys, and radiation-cooled composites and metals, each of which has known limitations. Metallic nozzles have high density and limited temperature capability. Carbon/carbon (C/C) is an attractive alternative, but has manufacturability, oxidation resistance, and joining ability concerns.

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Aromatic Thermosetting coPolyester (ATSP) Composites for High-Temperature and Cryogenic Applications

This family of polymers has utility in diverse applications ranging from structural composites to circuit boards, wear-resistant coatings, and rigid structural foams. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Advanced composite materials processable by cost-effective manufacturing play an important role in developing lightweight structures for future space and planetary exploration missions. With the growing demand for improved performance in the aerospace sector, advances in polymer systems with extreme thermomechanical properties are critical in providing excellent retention of performance in high-temperature environments, and high resistance to microcracking at cryogenic temperatures.

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Ultralow-Temperature-Operable Solid Propellant Binder

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama A unique binder was developed that exhibits a glass transition temperature of –100 °C, which is more than 50 °C lower than that of traditional HTPB (hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene) and CTPB (carboxyl-terminated polybutadiene) binders. This innovation would be a solid propellant that would ameliorate low-temperature operability problems for the two-stage Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV).

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Carbon Nanotube-Assisted Microwave Healing of Thermally Re-Mendable Composites

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A method creates thermally healable composites using carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotube microwave heating provides a pathway to overcome issues associated with electrical resistive heating networks. Carbon nanotubes embedded within a thermally reversible polymer can be heated by direct exposure to a microwave source. The heat generated by the nanotubes can drive the thermally reversible polymerization of the matrix. Because the microwave source can be focused, the composite can be locally heated at the point of damage thereby reducing the energy requirements for thermal healing. The carbon nanotubes can conform to any shape, allowing the manufacture of complex shapes without concern of damaging the heating network.

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Aluminoborosilicate Supplement for Thermal Protection of a Re-entrant Vehicle

This material can be used in aircraft, turbine engines, automobiles, and any application that requires thermal protection surfaces. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California The Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Com posite (TUFROC) allows for much more affordable and sustainable operations involving Space Launch Services and other systems that utilize Earth reentry vehicles. TUFROC has an exposed surface design and appropriate materials combination that will allow a space vehicle to survive both the mechanical stresses of the initial ascent, and the extreme heating and stress of re-entry. It provides a thermal protection tile attachment system that is suitable for application to a space vehicle leading edge, and for other uses in extreme heating environments (up to 3600 °F, and possibly higher, for short time intervals).

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Processing and Manufacture of Inorganic-Organic Hybrid Syntactic Structural Cryogenic Insulator

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Reducing the cost and weight of launch structures is essential to meeting NASA goals for reliable access to space. Currently, separate systems are used for structure and pressure containment, cryogenic insulation, and high-temperature insulation. One way of reducing this cost and weight is through the development of multifunctional materials that can eliminate parasitic weight. Combining two functional components — structure and insulation — reduces weight and structural complexity, which usually is akin to fragility in the system, and minimizes the need for parasitic thermal protection and insulation systems.

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