The goal of this project is to automate the processes for making and installing ablative TPS on large entry vehicles in order to significantly reduce the cost of TPS for future flight vehicles. The approach will be to develop new TPS materials that are compatible with 3D printing techniques which opens the door to automating TPS production and installation.
This project supports JSC Technology area of Entry, Descent and Landing (TA09) and Thermal Protection System (TPS) (TA14) technology gaps. Future spacecraft, such as large Mars entry vehicles, need robust, mass efficient and low cost TPS. Part count and seams between TPS components need to be reduced. Automated manufacturing and installation of TPS provides potential solutions to these technology gaps.