Previous studies on ARV vehicles have illustrated that hybrid TPS systems based on ablators integrated with thermo-structural materials are suitable candidates. Europe has limited research on ablative materials, these being almost abandoned since the ARD missions of the 80s. Recently, ESA's Moon robotic exploration program calls for ablative solutions for the thermal protection of planetary probes.
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As described in the 2011 work programme, the space sector contributes to Europe’s independence and prosperity. Thus, the European Commission established that non-dependent access to important space technology is necessary at the European level. The production and testing of ablative materials has not been intensively studied in Europe in the last 10 years and few manufacturers have maintained their capabilities for dual applications.
These technical approaches are focused on hybrid TPS based on ablative/thermostructural assembly and their subsequent testing, and less on material fabrication. The concept of this project is based on the creation of a new hybrid thermal shield, based on the integration of external ablative parts with a thermostructural CMC (ceramic matrix composite) core. This will be achieved by integrating different materials.
The realization of the hybrid systems will be directed towards the integration of the external ablative shield and the joining with the thermostructural systems based on ceramic composites and will offer an innovative technological solution in accordance with the level of capacity of the European suppliers. In particular, the joining of different parts will be achieved by using advanced bonding technologies. The ablative parts will consist of two types of materials (resin-based and cork-based), while the ceramic matrix composites (CMC) will be based on conventional SiC composites reinforced with carbon fiber. Re-entry ground tests will be performed, in the “plasma wind tunnel” type installation, and the results will be compared with the provided specifications.
The role of the Romanian partner in the project
INCAS participates in WP7 and WP8 of the project, performing mechanical, thermal and microstructural tests and dissemination.
The objectives of WP7 – Characterization, re-entry testing and validation – refer to the characterization of materials, single parts, assemblies and the prototype, obtained throughout the entire project. The single parts and assembled parts obtained in the previous work packages will be characterized by studying their microstructure and mechanical and thermal properties. INCAS will participate, using the facilities it owns, in the characterization stage (mechanical and thermo-physical of the single parts and of the entire TPS prototype, assembled in WP6. INCAS participates in the first sub-WP of WP7, namely, WP7.1: Microstructural and thermo-mechanical characterization (T30)
This sub-WP consists of thermal and microstructural characterization of ablative and CMC singular parts and the entire TPS prototype, before and after atmospheric re-entry tests. INCAS will develop the characterization plan and test procedure and perform microstructural analysis at the sample level, before and after re-entry testing, and evaluation of the mechanical behavior of single ablative and CMC samples. Using the QTS2 thermal shock facility, INCAS will determine the thermal shock resistance of materials and systems at sample level providing complementary information to the re-entry test. For this sub-work package, INCAS will develop a report on the characterization of TPS singular parts and the prototype for deliverables 7.1. This report contains the results of tests (microstructural, mechanical, thermophysical and thermomechanical) performed on single TPS parts (ablative and ceramic) and on the complete TPS prototype. [month 36]. This work package also includes a milestone that will consist of validating the final solution against experimental ground performance.
WP8: Use, Exploitation and Dissemination, includes dissemination of project results and development of a use and exploitation plan. INCAS participates in 2 sub-work packages:
D8.1) Dissemination and actions plan: Contains a report on the dissemination of the main achievements and results obtained within the project. [month36]
D8.3) The plan for the use of the technologies developed in the project and the assessment of a potential standardization: will contain the plan of use and exploitation for all partners in the project, and also an assessment of a potential standardization coming from the results of the project tests. [month36]