FP7/Space-2009-1/241992 “Radiation Shapes Thermal Protection Investigations for high-speed earth re-entry”. 1/9/2010 – 30/4/2013

Our lab has the main responsibility for examining a new thermal protective (TPS) ablator material from EADS/ASTRIUM (“ASTERM”) which is capable of providing very heat flux protection  for explorative craft (“Earth Return Capsule”, right, top) as they return to earth with speeds of more than 13km/sec (>45000km/hr) carrying a soil sample from another planetary body. This would for example be the sample-return mission “Marco Polo” under consideration for funding by the European Space Agency (ESA) in the coming years.

A significant part of our team’s responsibility is the determination of the mechanical behaviour of ASTERM and the joints and bonds among the tiles and between the tiles and the substructure as well as the thermal behaviour during plasma-jet tests (4Mach) at up to about 15MW/m2  (see a video from such a test on the right). We also have had the responsibility to produce an almost-full size demonstrator shield of diameter about 90cm (right, bottom).

The Rastas Spear project is being coordinated and managed by one of the main European space companies EADS/ASTRIUM (Fr) and there are a total of 10 partners from 6 European states.

The project is now in its 3rd year and expected to be completed at the end of April 2013. For more information visit Rastas-Spear Project