NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X2.06-9476
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Thermal Materials and Management
PROPOSAL TITLE: Advanced Thermal Protection Systems (ATPS), Aerospace Grade Carbon Bonded Carbon Fiber Material

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Fiber Materials Inc
5 Morin St
Biddeford, ME 04005-4497

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Keith R Meiler
5 Morin St
Biddeford, ME 04005-4497

Carbon bonded carbon fiber (CBCF) insulating material is the basis for several highly successful NASA developed thermal protection systems (TPS). Among the innovative TPS are Genesis, PICA (phenolic impregnated carbonaceous ablator) currently employed on the Stardust Mission and TUFROC (Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-resistant Composite). NASA-Ames has a patent pending concerning TUFROC and the technology is planned for transfer to Boeing for fabrication of the X-37 leading edge.
Carbon bonded carbon fiber (CBCF) utilized in the above mentioned TPS is attractive because of its low cost and density, superior thermal performance and compatibility with other components. However, the current CBCF manufacturing processes do not produce materials engineered to the necessary control required of these emerging and highly innovative TPS designs. This program will develop and demonstrate advanced processes and manufacturing approaches to consistently fabricate CBCF insulating material to desired specifications. The benefits derived include significantly improved flexibility for the TPS design engineer as well as more cost efficient CBCF derived TPS fabrication. It will also enable greater availability to this class of superior insulating materials.

Carbon bonded carbon fiber (CBCF) is an effective constituent material selected for manufacture of several advanced TPS systems. The Stardust (PICA) and Genesis (LMMS Genesis Concept) discovery missions have incorporated CBCF into their respective earth entry TPS. TUFROC TPS under development by NASA-Ames, in addition to current transitioning to Boeing X-37 leading edge, has also been down-selected by a preliminary conceptual design for an aerocapture mission at Titan. TUFROC also requires a qualified CBCF starting material. NASA is investing in advanced technologies to empower the Vision for Space Exploration. TUFROC TPS development is a promising step in that direction.

Fiber Materials, Inc manufactures a commercial CBCF material termed FiberForm. It is typically sold as high temperature (5000oF capability) furnace insulation. This non-NASA commercial application ensures CBCF production as the demand for an aerospace grade CBCF product is considered a small component of annual production. Experience gained during the course of this SBIR will foster an improved commercial product, increasing the material's competitiveness in the marketplace and long term viability.