Moisture absorption characteristics of the Orbiter thermal protection system and methods used to prevent water ingestionThe Space Shuttle Orbiter's silica tile Thermal Protection System (TPS) is beset by the moisture absorption problems inherently associated with low density, highly porous insulation systems. Attention is presently given to the comparative success of methods for the minimization and/or prevention of water ingestion by the TPS tiles, covering the development of water-repellent agents and their tile application techniques, flight test program results, and materials improvements. The use of external films for rewaterproofing of the TPS tiles after each mission have demonstrated marginal to unacceptable performance. By contrast, a tile interior waterproofing agent has shown promise.
Schomburg, C. (NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Dotts, R. L. (NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Tillian, D. J. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)