New insulative carbon-fiber composite systems have been developed for use in structural and thermal applications for the aerospace vehicle interface. The sandwich-type composite structure, including carbon fiber and aerogel blanket materials, is based on the previously disclosed family of hybrid laminate composites. Offering unique and tailorable combinations of structural and thermal properties, these insulative carbon fiber systems can be used in vehicle shroud and thermal protection system applications at the aerodynamic interface plane, panels between stages, or fairings for spacecraft equipment space of space launch vehicles. The novel, lightweight, fiber composite laminate system with reduced heat transfer also has increased impact resistance at low temperatures.

These advanced insulative carbon fiber laminate systems can be fabricated with the newer out-of-autoclave resin systems (aerospace grade) or epoxy resin systems. The epoxy resin systems can be high-temperature with increased toughness resin systems or medium cure resin systems. The composite laminate is then sandwiched with advanced thermal insulative core materials including aerogel-based thermal insulation blanket. These combinations can provide breakthrough system performance as well as ease in operability and time efficiency when installing thermal protection systems in spacecraft integration or during vehicle processing.

The insulative carbon fiber systems and their different material combinations have strong potential for use in both primary and secondary aeronautical and aerospace structures. Other multifunctional properties such as impact protection are also possible to construct. With composite technology being so dynamic in nature, this thermal and mechanical energy absorption technology can also be applied to aircraft, military equipment, and the automobile industry.

This work was done by Anne Caraccio, Chad Brown, Martha Williams, Adam Dokos, LaNetra Tate, and Brian Taylor of Kennedy Space Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. KSC-13702


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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