- Conference date: 31 Jan - 4 Feb 1999
- Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA)
An array of metallic Thermal Protection System (TPS) panels developed for the windward surface of the X-33 vehicle was tested in the 8-Foot High Temperature Tunnel at the NASA Langley Research Center. These tests were the first aerothermal tests of an X-33 TPS array and the test results will be used to validate the TPS for the X-33 flight program. Specifically, the tests evaluated the structural and thermal performance of the TPS, the effectiveness of the high temperature seals between adjacent panels and the durability of the TPS under realistic aerothermal flight conditions. The effect of varying panel-to-panel step heights, intentional damage to the seals between adjacent panels, and the use of secondary seals were also investigated during the test program. The metallic TPS developed for the windward surface of the X-33, the blanket TPS developed to protect the leeward surfaces of the X-33, and the test program in the 8-Foot High Temperature Tunnel are presented and discussed.
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