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ESA selects a national consortium for designing a new generation of thermal protection systems

Portugal 18/12/2013

The technical performance of the new Corticeira Amorim’s cork composite material takes cork to another space project.

Amorim Cork Composites, a member company of Corticeira Amorim, Critical Materials SA (CMT), PIEP - Innovation in Polymer Engineering, and ISQ - Welding and Quality Institute are part of a Portuguese consortium responsible for the TPS project - Design of a Crushable TPS for the ERC, of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The project is aimed at developing and functionally testing an innovative thermal protection system that will fulfill both structural and thermal functions, that will help to simplify spacecraft's re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. This system will combine the ability to absorb the shock energy of landing impact with the ability to sustain high thermal loads encountered during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

The new solution in progress is based on an innovative cork composite material allowing the space shuttle to successfully adapt to the entry into orbit and subsequent descent to the planet's surface. This is another evidence of the cork's ability to meet highly demanding aerospace applications. The cork has been present in space missions since the beginning of space exploration.

The result is a high performance solution that helps to simplify spacecraft's re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, thus reducing costs and improving reliability.

Expertise combination is critical to achieving the project's goals; gathering complementary skills from organizations of the National Scientific and Technological System (PIEP) and industry as well as including in the consortium all value chain players (that will contribute to this solution being marketable in the future), from inspection and testing services (ISQ) to technology providers (CMT/PIEP) and final solution providers (Corticeira Amorim).