The completion of the project will result in a method for joining and repairing mid-to-high density ablative TPS materials of at least 1" thickness. This project will provide new ways of adequately designing large and/or complex shapes for heat shields to protect the spacecraft, enabling operation under harsher conditions with a reduction in both weight and cost. The next generation of crew reentry vehicles being designed by NASA will require more advanced Thermal Protection System (TPS) designs than the conservative approaches currently used. While new TPS materials are under development, a key difficulty is the ability to create the joining seam TPS material which is not reduce the thermal-mechanical performance compared TPS woven material. This project helps address that difficulty.
As our society becomes more dependent upon satellites for worldwide communications, weather prediction, global positioning, and countless other applications, the need to be able to add, service, replace, and remove satellites grows, and with it the need for more efficient commercial re-entry vehicles capable of performing these tasks. This project helps enable these vehicles as well as the more exotic exploration vehicles.