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High Temperature Properties of an Alumina Enhanced Thermal BarrierThe heatshield material requirements for future space vehicles (Aerobraking Orbital Transfer Vehicle & National Aerospace Plane) will depend upon the desired flight capability, configuration and location on the vehicle. These requirements will be more demanding and different from those derived for the materials used in the Shuttle Orbiter thermal protection system. Research was therefore initiated into improving the thermal efficiency of this class of materials by first characterizing their thermal and structural capabilities. Alternate material systems have been developed, tested, and compared with the baseline Shuttle system. This research resulted in the development of several very low density, high porosity (80-90%) materials with enhanced durability and temperature capability. One of the developments was a family of materials referred to as Fibrous Refractory Composite Insulation (FRCI) utilizing a mixture of fibers, each serving a unique purpose. One composition of the FRCI family with two fibers was adopted as a baseline material for use on the third and fourth Orbiters in selected areas due to its strength at a lower density compared to earlier materials. A further improvement in the FRCI family of materials is the Alumina Enhanced Thermal Barrier (AETB), a three-fiber composite. It has a higher temperature capability (composition dependent) than the baseline FRCI as proven by convective heating tests of one composition. AETB was studied to better characterize its performance at high temperature and the mechanisms by which its properties change. In conclusion, the shrinkage of AETB is a factor of six better than baseline FRCI at 1260 C (2300 F) with about a 20% improvement in mechanical properties. This improvement could translate into a 110 C (200 F) higher temperature capability in use as a heat shield material, but further testing in a convective heating environment is required to determine the actual improvement attainable.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Leiser, Daniel B. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Smith, Marnell (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Keating, Elizabeth A. (Boeing Aerospace Co. Seattle, WA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1987
Publication Information
Publication: Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings
Volume: 8
Issue: 7
Subject Category
Nonmetallic Materials
Distribution Limits