ARA Ablatives Laboratory – Satellite R&D / Manufacturing Facility, Centennial,CO

ABL Description & Capabilities

Our ARA Ablatives Laboratory (ABL), located 25 miles southeast of Denver, CO, is a 7,000 square-foot facility dedicated to research, development and manufacturing of ablative heatshield systems for entry vehicles, launch vehicles and missile systems. Located in its current facility since 1997, the lab provides regular contractual support to five NASA centers: LaRC, MSFC, JSC, ARC, and JPL. We specialize in advanced heatshield architectures, design development, thermal testing, analytical modeling, production processes, and system-level manufacturing.

The lab is fully equipped with computer work stations, large planetary mixers, ovens to accommodate parts up to 10-ft across, CNC machines capable of milling 10-ft parts, pumps for vacuum bagging, compressors, and a machine shop for conventional milling.

Since 2006, we have provided four 1.0-m ablative aeroshells, one approximately
0.5-m aeroshell, and one 2.65-m aeroshell. We have also produced over 1,000 instrumented arc-jet and thermal radiation test samples, a wide range of mechanical test articles, and numerous subscale manufacturing development and demonstration units. Four of the produced heatshield/aeroshells described above were made by modular manufacturing with secondary bonding of the ablator modules to aeroshell structures.

The modules were first formed as molded units (either as large billets or as near-net units) and then precision CNC milled to exacting requirements for proper fit and bonding to their mating surfaces. For honeycomb-reinforced charring ablators, this is new technology developed for NASA by the ABL. Our delivered aeroshells are unique because of this advanced architecture that significantly enhances heatshield producibility.

For Additional Information Contact: William Congdon, Laboratory Director, at 303-699-7737

ABL Heatshield Production Equipment
Planetary Mixers for Ablators
Planetary Mixers for Ablator Compounding
10-Foot Aeroshell Curing Oven
10-Foot Heatshield/Aeroshell Curing Oven
Large 5-Axis Milling Machine
Heatshield Large 5-Axis CNC Milling Machine
Divisions / Offices


ARA Ablatives Laboratory (ABL)
14824 E Hinsdale Ave., # C
Centennial, CO 80112
(303) 699-7737
» View Location Map

Showcase Capabilities
  1. Engineering Design
  2. CNC Production
  3. Arc-Jet Ablation Testing
  4. Ablation Response Modeling
  5. Mechanical Properties Testing
  6. Heatshield Advanced Architectures
  7. Heatshield/Aeroshell Manufacturing
  8. Aeroshell Thermostructural Testing
    (System Level Testing)
Showcase Projects

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