Ablatives Laboratory

Ablatives Lab

The 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 heatshields and thermal protection systems (TPS) for entry vehicles, launch vehicles and missile systems. Located in its current facility for 20 years, the lab provides 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, vacuum chambers, and a machine shop for conventional milling.

We have manufactured six heatshield/aeroshells under NASA contracts. These  include four 1.0-m diameter units, one approximately 0.5-m unit, and one 2.65-m unit that is on display at NASA/LaRC since 2014. 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

Ablatives Lab

2.65-M Modular Aeroshell Production

For NASA's Langley Research Center, ARA's Ablatives Laboratory (ABL) produced a large heatshield/aeroshell that incorporates new... more

Heat Shield

Heatshield / Aeroshell Solar Tower Testing

Under NASA sponsorship, the ARA Ablatives Laboratory has been conducting advanced ablator tests in the Sandia Solar Tower Facility since 2003. more

Heatshield Block Ablator

Heatshield Block Ablator Architecture

Heatshield Block Ablator Architecture more

Thermal Protection Technology and Engineering

Thermal Protection Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing

ARA’s Ablatives Laboratory is a NASA-dedicated facility focused on technology advancements for thermal protection systems (TPS) such as planetary entry vehicles and launch vehicles. more