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Composites replace titanium in Orion space capsule heatshield and backshell structure

News International-French

8 Dec 2014

TenCate Advanced Composites North America, a global composite materials company for space and aerospace applications, has developed and provided heat resistant composites for the heat shield and backshell structure of the Lockheed Martin Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle, launched this week. 

The suite of advanced materials of TenCate in this space capsule replaces the traditional titanium solution for re-entry and splashdown requirements, while saving weight and cost. The composite heat shield design allows very large composite structures to be fabricated out of autoclave.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Orion thermal protection group worked closely with TenCate Advanced Composites to develop a special heat resistant composite resin for the 16.5 foot (5 meter) diameter heat shield and the crew vehicle backshell structure of the Orion space capsule.

The successful launch this week of the NASA’s Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle represents the efforts, innovation and teamwork of many individuals and companies involved. Steve Mead, Vice President of Marketing & Sales at TenCate Advanced Composites in Morgan Hill, USA, states: “This week’s flight represents the culmination of a five year development and qualification effort for a suite of materials used in this extreme application. Further, as a result of the heat shield’s large size and thickness, the advanced composites used had to achieve high consolidation using only a low pressure vacuum bag only process. TenCate is honoured to be one of Lockheed’s partners on this important space program.”

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