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Cork integrated within programme for reusable space vehicles


The development of reusable launcher vehicles is one of the aerospace industry’s biggest trends. The space shuttle – considered for many years to be a state-of-the-art vehicle - required expensive maintenance costs. However, recent developments, primarily led by US companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX, point once again in the direction of reusable launch vehicle systems (RLV).

RETALT - Retro Propulsion Assisted Landing Technologies - a project that includes Amorim Cork Composites, has been launched in this context and aims to reduce the cost of the next generation launchers and transport systems by using new technologies that facilitate re-use.

The project, that joins European industry and research, involves important European aerospace companies and will be directly supported by the European Union founds. In addition to Amorim Cork Composites, the RETALT consortium includes DLR (Germany), CFS Engineering (Switzerland), Elecnor Deimos (Spain), MT Aerospace (Germany) and Almatech (Switzerland).

Amorim Cork Composites’ participation in the project will support the development of simulation processes and the structural design with the production of thermal protection components. The company's mission includes the creation of a new cork-based solution which can be applied to the launcher’s base area and fairing, complementing the current cork TPS portfolio offer. In this context, the development of solutions to cover different planned systems, producing several small-scale breadboard prototypes.

“In the USA, Retro-Propulsion is being practiced. However, the phenomena and physics behind the technologies are not completely understood. With high quality data from wind tunnel experiments and ground demonstrators combined with numerical simulations, we will be able to understand the details and take a big leap towards applicability of reusability in Europe. The know-how for a rapid application of re-usability in European launchers can only come from a strong common effort of research and industry.”

 Prof. Ali Gülhan (DLR), project coordinator