FLPP: A European Opportunity for the Development of Re-entry / Reuse Technologies - Materials and Structures 2006-01-2261
One of the major objectives of the ESA Program FLPP (Future Launchers Preparatory Program) is the development of key technologies enabling the reduction of the launch service costs for the Next Generation Launchers (NGL), encompassing both current expendable launchers (ELV) as well Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV).
The strengthening of the European industrial capability to improve the maturity of critical technologies represents the necessary preparation of the programmatic and technical grounds that FLPP shall provide in order to start the development of NGL.
Among all the critical technologies required for candidate RLV / ELV concepts implementation, Materials and Structures (M&S) technologies, specifically Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) and Hot Structures (HS), provide significant benefits due to their stringent requirements of low mass, to their high performance in the hostile re-entry environment and to their extended lifetime.
FLPP Period-1 activities started in January 2005. A categorization of candidate NGL concepts has been first performed in order to derive the critical technologies for future NGL. The successful results achieved during the last fifteen years in Europe have been gathered to assess the present Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the identified M&S components and have been complemented by specific information provided by the involved technologies manufacturers. This bottom-up approach has allowed to focus the potentialities and the maturity of each identified technology in order to define a correspondent FLPP Technology Development and Verification Plan (TDVP) having the objective of raising the TRL up to 6-7 by the date of an ELV / RLV decision (around 2012), merging the development schedule of the different technologies with the FLPP in-flight experimentation opportunities.
The present paper provides an overview of the identified key technologies and presents the development and verification logic followed for the major M&S components together with final recommendation for technology prioritization.