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Starfire Develops Second Repair Solution for NASA Space Shuttle

18 March 2008

Starfire Systems has contributed materials technology that could provide technical options for repairing large damage to the wing leading edge thermal protection system.

The Large Area Repair (LAR) kit includes a flexible fiber reinforced ceramic panel, the LAR cover plate, based on Starfire’s polymer ceramic technology. Current technologies for on-orbit repair include mechanical attach methods that accommodate small holes up to four inches diameter, and NOAX sealant for repair of small cracks and gouges. This technology has been successfully demonstrated in orbit by NASA under simulated conditions for small damage repair.

The LAR cover plate employs the use of patented silicon carbide forming polymers to create a flexible ceramic wrap designed to conform to the curvature of the Shuttle’s leading edge. The ceramic wrap has been demonstrated at the Boeing St. Louis arc jet facility where it was tested under simulated entry conditions up to 2700 °F.

Starfire materials technology has also been applied to repair solutions such as NOAX, a paste-like sealant that is used to repair composite substrate exposed from wing leading edge or nose cap damage. NOAX is now carried on all shuttle missions for small heat shield crack repairs, and the system was successfully demonstrated for repair of simulated damage during a July 12, 2006 spacewalk.