NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Extreme High Temperature/High Pressure Environment
PROPOSAL TITLE:Aerogel Insulation for the Thermal Protection of Venus Spacecraft

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Aspen Aerogels, Inc.
30 Forbes Road, Building B
Northborough, MA 01532-2501
(508) 691-1161

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Owen   Evans
30 Forbes Road
Northborough, MA  01532-2501
(508) 446-3104

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
One of NASA's primary goals for the next decade is the design, development and launch of a spacecraft aimed at the in-situ exploration of the deep atmosphere and surface of Venus. The success of this mission, called VISE (Venus In-Situ Explorer), is reliant on the development of effective thermal insulation solutions capable of protecting spacecraft for extended periods of time from the extreme heat and pressure associated with the lower atmosphere of Venus. Materials intended for exterior application must also be inert towards the sulfuric, hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid present. Aspen Aerogels, Inc. proposes to continue its development of aerogel composites intended for thermal and chemical protection to a Venus spacecraft. During the Phase I program, we fabricated several aerogels with inherent thermal conductivities below 40 mW/m-K. In Phase II, we propose to optimize the synthesis through systematic changes in gelation, extraction, and pyrolysis conditions. Furthermore, we will demonstrate thermal conductivities of 100 mW/m-K at 500 C under 90 bars of CO2 pressure. Lastly, methods for fabricating aerogel composites into complex shapes will be investigated along with system level design including attachment to the Venus spacecraft.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The outstanding thermal stability of these aerogel composites will allow use in the thermal protection of spacecraft subjected to high heat loads or the extremely low temperature of deep space. Heat shields composed of this flexible low density material can protect spacecraft during aggressive orbital entry (aerocapture/aerobraking) while imparting a significant mass savings over conventional ablative heat-shields. The extreme hardness of these aerogel composites should also provide protection from high velocity impacts from micrometeriods, as well as thermally insulating equipment against the frigid temperatures of deep space. These materials are expecting to have better insulating properties than conventional materials and should find use in a number of applications important to NASA.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
These materials will find use in a number of thermally demanding and corrosive environments including, but not limited to: thermal insulation for jet engines, automotives, nuclear reactors, petrochemical refineries, and electrical turbines.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Thermal Insulating Materials

Form Printed on 07-25-06 17:04