University of Birmingham > Talks@bham > School of Metallurgy and Materials Colloquia > History of Thermal Protection Systems

History of Thermal Protection Systems

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  • UserDr Sylvia Johnson, Chief of the Thermal Protection Materials and Systems Branch at the NASA Ames Research Center
  • ClockFriday 20 July 2018, 11:00-12:00
  • HouseMetallurgy and Materials, GD20.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Richard Turner.

Thermal protection systems (TPS) are used to protect space vehicles from the heat of entry or reentry into an atmosphere after space flight. A vehicle requires propulsion to leave and a thermal protection system to enter atmospheres or come back to Earth. The TPS materials must protect the vehicle from both the convective and radiative heating that occurs during flight through an atmosphere. They must be efficient and reliable, which means they must behave predictably and protect the vehicle and contents with the minimum mass and/or volume. This talk will trace some of the developments in these materials over the years, with particular emphasis on US space missions which built on earlier and concurrent military technology. The role of the “Space Race” and the political climate of the time will be noted. Both reusable and ablative systems will be discussed, and how the use of these materials has changed over time, especially with respect to the Space Shuttle program and recent missions, including those to Mars. Some future needs for materials for space exploration will also be discussed.

This talk is part of the School of Metallurgy and Materials Colloquia series.

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