Beta-Titanium Alloy Thermal Protection System for Re-entry Vehicles 2008-01-2149
From the early beginning of space programs metallic Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) have been considered as promising technology to protect space vehicles against the severe aerodynamic heating encountered during re-entry into earth's atmosphere. The goal of “airplane-like” operations for future RLV's led to a renewed interest in TPS more durable than that developed for the space shuttle orbiter. This triggered the need for a development of metallic TPS which is expected to be also more robust than existing ones. Using the European IXV experimental vehicle concept as reference configuration ASTRIUM SPACE Transportation, Bremen was entrusted by NGL Prime for developing a metallic TPS called MERIT within the frame of the FLPP-1 M&S program. The development has been performed so far that the design for such a metallic TPS has been concluded and analytically verified. The next step was to verify the design and analytical work by ground tests. This has been done in two ways. A first test campaign was accomplished to verify points of special interest/performance in particular characterization. Next a panel array was tested in order to simulate so called TPS assembly conditions and to verify the TPS behavior from system point of view. For that vibration tests and thermal IR-tests have been executed. The objective of this paper is to provide a summary description of the development activities accomplished so far.