Aerogel-Based Insulation for Advanced Space Suit 2002-01-2316
Future spacesuits will require thermal insulation protection in low-earth orbit (LEO), in the near-earth neighborhood and in planetary environments. In order to satisfy all future exploration needs and lower production and maintenance costs, a common thermal insulation is desirable that will perform well in all these environments. A highly promising material is a fiber-reinforced aerogel composite insulation currently being developed at the Johnson Space Center. This paper presents an overview of aerogels and their manufacture, a summary of the development of a flexible fiber-based aerogel for NASA by Aspen Aerogels, Inc., and performance data of aerogels relative to flexible commercial insulation. Finally, future plans are presented of how an aerogel-based insulation may be integrated into a spacesuit for ground testing as well as for a flight configuration.