The Lockheed Martin Orion multi-purpose space capsule.
The Lockheed Martin Orion multi-purpose space capsule.

TenCate’s materials replace 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 with TenCate Advanced Composites to develop a special heat resistant composite resin for the 16.5 ft (5 m) diameter heat shield and the crew vehicle backshell structure of the Orion space capsule. 

Space honour

“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,” said Steve Mead, vice president of marketing & sales at TenCate Advanced Composites. “TenCate is honoured to be one of Lockheed’s partners on this important space program.”