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Space Thermal Protection


Development of thermal protection systems for interplanetary flight.

Tech Area / Field

  • SAT-EXP/Extraterrestrial Exploration/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Urezchenko V M

Leading Institute
Moscow State University / NIIM (Mechanics), Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Central Aerodynamic Institute, Russia, Moscow reg., Zhukovsky
  • Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash), Russia, Moscow reg., Korolev
  • Russian Academy of Sciences / Institute for Problems in Mechanics, Russia, Moscow


  • European Space Agency / CNES MSTP/Centre Spatial de Toulouse, France, Toulouse
  • Aérospatiale, France, Les Mureaux
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. / Institut für Bauwesen und Konstruktionsforchung, Germany, Stuttgart

Project summary


The objective for the proposed program is to develop practical, validated concepts, analysis methodology and techniques for the design of high performance, low cost thermal protection systems. This enabling technology will reduce the cost and increase the effectiveness of future space missions.


The development of enhanced analysis methodology will focus on three primary areas of concern: (1) coupled environment influences, e.g., a combination of dust erosion and convective heating, (2) catalytic recombination at the material surface and (3) gap heating phenomena which are present in tiled thermal protection systems.

Expected Results:

The results of this program will include design concepts, as well as validated analysis techniques, for the development of thermal protection systems (TPS). Emphasis will be placed on environments and phenomena present when performing atmospheric entry during interplanetary exploration missions. Moreover, this program will not only define the analysis techniques necessary for enhancing TPS designs, but will also provide collaborating data for validation of the techniques.

Scientific Significance:

The intent of this technology development effort is to enhance the current level of understanding for the design of thermal protection systems for interplanetary travel. Since the TPS mass fraction for planetary probes is typically greater than 20% of the vehicle's entry weight, an increase in TPS performance can have a significant impact on the total mission. By reducing the design uncertainties a lower weight, lower cost and lower risk vehicle can be realized.

ISTC Objectives Addressed:

This program will employ technical personnel which were previously involved in the design and evaluation of military weapons, including the development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapon. By focusing the selected personnel's skills towards space exploration, critical civil science objectives can be met while converting the scientists and engineers away from defense activities. In addition, the funding for this program would help offset the loss in military funding support and secure the talents of these inpiduals.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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