NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-A4.04-7088 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 035919)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Launch Vehicle Airframe Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE:Oxidatively Stable Flexible Aerogel Composites for Reusable TPS

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
ASPEN AEROGELS, INC.
184 Cedar Hill St.
Marlborough ,MA 01752 - 3017
(508) 481 - 5058

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
George L Gould
glgould@aerogel.com
184 Cedar Hill St.
Marlborough ,MA  01752 -3017
(508) 481 - 5058
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
NASA?s Next Generation Launch Vehicle Technology Program has an interest in robust TPS materials with the highest level of thermal performance at the lowest possible areal weight. The materials need to be oxidatively stable and insensitive to water vapor, and able to perform with a minimum of material hysteresis over many cycles. Flexible silica aerogel composites, a class of super-insulation material recently developed by Aspen Aerogels, has not been utilized before in high temperature TPS designs. Thermophysical characterization data will be collected during the Phase I program for high-temperature durable, oxidatively stable, flexible aerogel composites at different densities, pressures and temperatures. The test data will be useful for re-entry TPS sizing studies, using existing aeroframe design and affiliated heat loads and environmental conditions for the re-entry trajectory. The materials optimized in the Phase I program will be available for thermal testing at NASA Langley under conditions relevant to Earth re-entry by reuseable launch vehicles for the coldest layers of the TPS system. Aerogel augmented TPS designs are likely to save significant parasitic TPS weight compared to the most promising non-aerogel alternatives available today. The aerogels will be compatible with all high temperature capable face-skin materials.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
The proposed aerogel containing TPS systems will significantly lower parasitic launch weight for reusable launch vehicles and deep space probes, allowing significant increases in scientific payload weight and/or volume. The materials may also find use integrated into structural TPS lay-ups for Next Generation Launch Vehicles. Flexible aerogel composites may be used in advanced space suit insulation and other NASA relevant applications where multi-layer insulation (MLI) is currently used.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
Low-density, high temperature capable flexible aerogel composites have bright commercial prospects. The materials are currently the best solid insulation materials currently available, and are finding use in a wide range of commercial, military, and government aerospace applications. The low-density materials optimized in this program could be used as an MLI replacement for thermal management systems on satellites and as thermoacoustic insulation on new commercial aircraft designs.