NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-S1.02-7224 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 035783)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Deep Space Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE:Aerogel Enhanced TPS Concepts for Aerocapture

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   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 In-Flight Propulsion Program is investigating aerocapture as a rapid, highly efficient method for insertion of probes into long-duration scientific orbits. Aerocapture, an aggressive braking maneuver intended to achieve a scientific orbit directly (?capture?) from a hyperbolic approach trajectory, places extremely high peak heat loads of short duration on the leading surfaces of the spacecraft. 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, flexible aerogel composites at different densities, pressures and temperatures. The test data will be used to run detailed thermal performance simulations for the Titan aerocapture mission using TPS designs incorporating the best performing material. During the Phase I program, an aerogel augmented TPS lay-up using the best performing materials will be sized to maintain the aeroshell bondline temperature below 250 ?C for the duration of the Titan aerocapture maneuver. The aerogel TPS design is likely to save over 60 kg of parasitic forebody TPS weight for the Titan Orbiter aeroshell compared to the most promising non-aerogel alternative (TUFROC).

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
The proposed aerogel containing TPS systems will significantly lower parasitic launch weight for deep space probes, allowing significant increases in scientific payload weight and/or volume. The materials may also find use integrated into 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.