For all future space transportation systems the capability for multiple use plays a major role. This fact comprises ascent, on-orbit and re-entry, maintenance and inspection on ground for all major components and subsystems. Beginning with HERMES Europe made great efforts in the re-entry technology development also. This affects e.g. guidance and navigation, aero-thermodynamic and Thermal Protection Systems (TPS).
The US Advanced Flexible Reusable Insulation (AFRSI) as TPS was developed for the Space Shuttle and successfully flown since the beginning of its missions. In Europe, there were similar developments performed within the HERMES program. Depending on the temperature levels on the vehicle and the aero-dynamical or mechanical loads different TPS are used. For areas with temperatures not exceeding 1100 °C and limited aerodynamical loads, as they occur on the leeward side of a space transportation system, FEI turned out to be the favorable system concerning area related mass and complexity. In the meantime a complete family of different FEI’s has been developed which covers limit temperatures ranging from 300 °C up to 1200°C. These systems are pre-qualified on ground and some samples have already flown. The European partici-pation within the United States X-38 technology demonstrator program for the future Crew Rescue Vehicle (CRV) - which is used as lifeboat for the International Space Station - presents an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the Dasa FEI technology. An artist view of the X-38 re-entry is shown in Figure 1.