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Post-Flight Evaluation of PICA and PICA-X - Comparisons of the Stardust SRC and Space-X Dragon 1 Forebody Heatshield MaterialsPhenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA) was developed at NASA Ames Research Center. As a thermal protection material, PICA has the advantages of being able to withstand high heat fluxes with a relatively low density. This ablative material was used as the forebody heat shield material for the Stardust sample return capsule, which re-entered the Earths atmosphere in 2006. Based on PICA, SpaceX developed a variant, PICA-X, and used it as the heat shield material for its Dragon spacecraft, which successfully orbited the Earth and re-entered the atmosphere during the COTS Demo Flight 1 in 2010. Post-flight analysis was previously performed on the Stardust PICA heat shield material. Similarly, a near-stagnation core was obtained from the post-flight Dragon 1 heat shield, which was retrieved from the Pacific Ocean. Materials testing and analyses were performed on the core to evaluate its ablation performance and post-flight properties. Comparisons between PICA and PICA-X are made where applicable. Stardust and Dragon offer rare opportunities to evaluate materials post-flight - this data is beneficial in understanding material performance and also improves modeling capabilities.
Document ID
Document Type
Stackpoole, M.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Kao, D.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Qu, V.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Gonzales, G.
(Engineering Research and Consulting, Inc. Mountain View, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
May 12, 2014
Publication Date
June 18, 2013
Subject Category
Chemistry And Materials (General)
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
International Planetary Probe Workshop(San Jose CA)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
post flight analysis
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