PSP Bibliography


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Designing, building, andtesting of a thermal protection systemfor a spacecraft which cannot be qualifiedusing standard methodology

AuthorSchaefera, Edward; Congdon, Elizabeth; Conkey, Shelly;
KeywordsCarbon carbon composites; Materials; Testing; Parker Engineering
AbstractThis is a case study of the Thermal Protection System (TPS) currently in use on the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, which over its seven year life it will experience surface temperatures in excess of 1400C. The traditional methodology for qualifying a space structure, using the old adage, "test what you fly and fly what you test" was simply not practical based on the selected materials, the size of the TPS, and a space environment characterized by its hard vacuumand hightemperatures. The approach to risk mitigation both in terms of the materials selected and its qualification for flight was complicated by the fact that both the selected materials and the typical qualification approach were beyond the current state of the art. The strength of materials, capable of operating in the 1400C temperature range severely restricted the design options,and required a substantial materials development test program. The basic building block approach was followed to the extent possible. Carbon-carbon composites have been used for a number of years, however a solid carbon-carbon TPS was not feasible due to weight and mission requirements. Further, there were no test facilities capable of testing such a large structure in the expected environment. Thus both structural and thermalqualification test programsrequiredsignificant development.
Copyright © 2019 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). All rights reserved.
Year of Publication2019
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
Number of Pages
Date Published