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SNC’s Dream Chaser Tenacity Prepares Thermal Protection System For 2021

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Industry Related News: United States – June, 2020:

Tenacity is the first space-worthy craft in the Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser line of spaceplanes, and they have just announced the latest addition to its design. The team at SNC has developed Thermal Protection System (TPS) tiles in order to protect the craft on its travels, mainly during the reentry process. With the ability to protect the structure from temperatures up to 1,650°C (3,000°F), these 10 sq. inch TPS tiles are integral in Tenacity’s launch and return. The tiles are white, allowing them to reflect heat from the sun and keep the craft at a manageable temperature of 176°C (350°F). The crucial components of the Tenacity require consistent and reliable protection from the elements to ensure that all functions are executed properly, which is why the security and effectiveness of the TPS plates remain a high priority during this development.

The 2,000 tiles protecting Tenacity will be attached to the exterior using room temperature vulcanizing (RTV) silicone, which is able to withstand high temperatures while keeping the tiles secured. The RTV silicone has been tested at extreme temperatures to measure its efficacy while enduring strength tests with mechanical pulling simulations to ensure the security of these important tiles. Thermal vacuum tests are effective forms of thermal testing, especially for conditions as dangerous as the Earth’s atmosphere.

The SNC team has already introduced durable heat-proof engineering with the frame of the Tenacity, which utilizes the most advanced high-temperature composite spaceframe in the industry. The combination of the protective TPS tiles, the resilient RTV silicone, and the advanced composite frame sets the Tenacity spaceplane for a safe voyage when it launches on United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan-Centaur rocket in 2021.

NASASpaceFlight.com Dream Chaser Receives Thermal Protection System, on Track for 2021 Debut nasaspaceflight.com, June 26, 2020, Accessed June 29, 2020.
SNC Blog, TPS Tiles Bonded to Dream Chaser® Spaceplane Sierra Nevada Corporation, sncorp.com, June 24, 2020, Accessed June 29, 2020.

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