Ceramic Composites and Thermal Protection Systems for Reusable Re-Entry Vehicles
Next generation of reusable launch vehicles and new hypersonic space vehicle concepts are currently under development, moving from traditional aerodynamic configuration towards slender profiles. Main expected benefits are reduction of drag, enhancement in lift-to-drag ratio and reduction of interferences with radio frequency transmissions during the re-entry. Flexibility in designing sharp profiles is strictly conditioned to the availability of suitable materials and processing technologies, required to fabricate components and surfaces able to withstand higher heat fluxes induced by the new profiles. Advances in the field of CMC's for high temperature structures and TPS are the basis for innovative approaches to the design of future RLV's. Beside baseline solutions, already available and well characterized, as for C/SiC CMC's, ultra high temperature ceramics seem to offer the right chance to fabricate hot structures having the required heat-resistant and load carrying capabilities. This paper deals with technologies based on the use of diboride based CMC's which can be considered promising candidate materials for the fabrication of hot structures of slender bodies, such as nose cap and wing leading edges. Recent experimental results will be presented and discussed.
T. Valente et al., "Ceramic Composites and Thermal Protection Systems for Reusable Re-Entry Vehicles", Advances in Science and Technology, Vol. 45, pp. 1505-1514, 2006