Heatshield Block Ablator Architecture
1) reinforcing and strengthening lightweight and perhaps somewhat brittle ablator and ceramic TPS materials; and 2) anchoring the heatshield via H/C bonding and enabling an initial pull-test of bonded, unfilled H/C to validate bond strength. The block-ablator concept was inclusive of a wide range of ablator materials, not just PICA and other lightweight systems. Molded, polymer based ablators in a cured form – such as mid-density phenolic-carbon ablators – might also be milled into precision blocks and bonded into block-ablator H/C. The B-A heatshield requires a faceted aeroshell structure. Shown in the figure above, this is a structure with flat faces to which flat H/C can be bonded. However, B-A can accommodate simple curvature at the cone edge as shown.
The Ablatives Laboratory (ABL) was tasked to contribute to the B-A effort in the following primary ways: 1) develop a producible design for a block-ablator heatshield system including honeycomb and block configuration and their basic dimensions; 2) select materials and develop a reliable method for producing block-ablator H/C; 3) develop processes and steps for milling blocks from slabs of ablator material; 4) select adhesives and investigate bonding processes for bonding H/C and TPS blocks; 5) produce eight large flexure test samples (i.e., 16.0-in long block-ablator on 30.0-in. long aluminum plates) made from PICA and phenolic ablators for bend testing at NASA/LaRC; 6) produce manufacturing demonstration units (one flat and one curved) of the B-A system using NASA-supplied substrates and PICA ablator billets; and 7) build PICA and phenolic thermal test samples and conduct arc-jet testing (stagnation and aeroshear series) to evaluate block-ablator system performance.
ARA’s Ablatives Laboratory is a NASA-dedicated facility focused on technology advancements for thermal protection systems (TPS) such as planetary... more
Research, development and manufacturing of ablative heatshields and thermal protection systems for entry and launch vehicles, and missile systems... more