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DuPont And NASA To Develop Kevlar Reinforced Insulation For Next Gen Space Vehicles

DuPont Kevlar is five times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis, yet possesses properties that make it lightweight, flexible and comfortable. It also delivers strength under heat, protecting against thermal hazards up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
by Staff Writers
Wilmington DE (SPX) Jul 13, 2007
DuPont has announced that it has signed a Space Act Agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to jointly develop urethane foam insulation reinforced with DuPont Kevlar fiber for use in a variety of future spacecraft, including the new launch vehicle being designed to replace the space shuttle.

DuPont and scientists at the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama will specifically seek to develop a process to incorporate Kevlar fiber into the cell walls of the foam, thereby enhancing the performance of the thermal protection systems used in the Ares 1 crew launch vehicle. There may be other uses for the material in future science and exploration applications ranging from vehicle TPS to inflatable structures.

"DuPont materials have enabled manned and unmanned missions into space for almost half a century, and we continue to work closely with NASA in helping solve their most pressing challenges," said Thomas G. Powell, vice president and general manager - DuPont Advanced Fiber Systems. "We look forward to the opportunity to work with NASA scientists in helping develop their next- generation thermal protection systems."

Kevlar is perhaps best known for its use in bullet- and stab-resistant body armor, but it also has strong ties to the U.S. Space Program. The high performance fiber that is five times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis is used today, along with DuPont Nomex fiber, in space suits worn by astronauts. Additionally, a parachute made of Kevlar fiber was included on the Galileo probe to Jupiter, and at the International Space Station, a blanket made of Kevlar fiber was used to wrap its inner walls and provided protection from micrometeorites.

Many other DuPont inventions have contributed to space exploration. On Apollo missions to the moon, 20 of the 21 layers in each space suit were made with DuPont materials, including DuPont Mylar polyester film, neoprene and DuPont Kapton film. Today the Mars Exploration Rovers - Spirit and Opportunity - contain almost 70 yards each of flexible circuits made of thin DuPont Pyralux laminates and composites which connect the "brains" of the rovers to their robotic arms, cameras, high gain antennae, wheels and sensors. The rovers also feature Kapton film for hundreds of strip heaters which are used for thermal control, ensuring the critical warmth needed to maintain operations in the extremely cold Martian atmosphere.

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How To Manage Floating Fluids In Space
Houston TX (SPX) Jul 05, 2007
Six months is a long time to be away from home. But Astronaut Sunita Williams had plenty of work to keep her busy during her stay on the International Space Station, including a group of experiments she dubbed "lava lamp." "I call it the 'lava lamp' experiment because some of the fluid is pink, and we hang out watching it with video and pictures," she wrote in her mission log. "If only we had a black light."







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