By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Heat shield tiles are getting stronger to make the next generation of American spacecraft safer as they experience searing heat and plasma on their way back into Earth’s atmosphere for landing.
The Thermal Protection System Facility is equipped with a variety of specialized tools to produce the precise tile shapes unique to each spacecraft’s design. For the first time since 2011, about 75 media and social media representatives toured the workshop and got a glimpse into how tiles are developed. Demonstrations also were performed, such as how waterproofing tiles protects spacecraft from rain, sleet and snow.
Tiles developed in the facility were used on NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which performed its first flight test in December 2014. Data obtained about the thermal protection system during the flight test will help engineers refine the spacecraft’s system ahead of its first uncrewed flight, Exploration Mission-1, and first crewed mission to orbit around the moon in the 2020s, preparing NASA for longer journeys to Mars.
Jacobs Technology engineers are producing test samples that will be used to protect the Dream Chaser spacecraft under development by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) in partnership with the agency’s Commercial Crew ...