Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM), an industry leader in the design, development and manufacture of highly specialized engineered woven fabrics, received a Space Technology Award from NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) for weaving the three-dimensional (3-D) material used to support the Heat-shield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology (HEEET) team. The team is developing a new thermal protection system (TPS) that leverages the way weaving is used to manufacture aircraft parts made of carbon composite materials. The award was announced at the at the STMD quarterly meeting in Washington, D.C.
To manufacture TPS materials with the desired properties, fibers of different compositions and variable yarn densities are accurately placed in a 3-D structure. Three-dimensional weaving extends the traditional two-dimensional (2-D) weaving by interconnecting woven material in the third direction, enabling the manufacturing of materials that are more robust to the entry environment than traditional 2-D woven materials. The panels are then infused with resins and cured to lock the fibers in place.
Using advanced modeling, design and manufacturing tools to optimize the weave for overall improved performance, the HEEET project has manufactured a new family of TPS materials and tested them for a wide variety of entry conditions.
BRM and NASA efforts are a great example of NASA partnering with an American small business with a unique specialized technological capability that will further current and future exploration plans.