1457. Development of a New Weight Saving Tile Material for the Shuttle Orbiter


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H M Clancy, R M Ehret: 1457. Development of a New Weight Saving Tile Material for the Shuttle Orbiter. 1982.



The Space Shuttle vehicle has been developed to provide an economical means for placing payloads and personnel into low earth orbits. The Shuttle Orbiter is launched, orbits and re-enters like a spacecraft but lands like an airplane. Its structure is similar to conventional aircraft but with the addition of a sophisticated Thermal Protection System (TPS) bonded to its aluminum skins to maintain their temperature below 350F. The challenge of the program has been the development of a lightweight reusable TPS capable of surviving 100 flights. The major portion of the TPS consists of 31,000 pure silica tiles two densities, nine (LI-900) and twenty two pounds (LI-2200) per cubic foot. Approximately 2000 of the LI-2200 tiles are used around TPS penetrations like the landing gear doors to resist the high loads imposed by door actuation. A study of TPS weight reduction potential was initiated in 1976 with the participation of NASA-Ames, Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Inc. and Rockwell International Space Division. The first TPS weight reduction item t o be implemented is a new tile material called Fibrous Refractory Composite Insulation (FRCI-12) which will replace about 85% of the LI-2200 tile. The new tile material is both stronger and lighter (at 12 PCF) and will result in a 945 pound weight saving on Orbiter vehicle OV-103 and subs. The development, qualification and implement of this new tile material are presented.


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