ORNL: Manufacturing – Carbon goes to space

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed a novel process to manufacture extreme heat resistant carbon-carbon composites at a faster rate. The performance of these materials will be tested in a U.S. Navy rocket that NASA will launch this fall.

Made of graphite reinforced with carbon fiber, the composites use a pure graphite matrix instead of epoxy to bind the fibers. Researchers manufactured a nose cone and fins embedded with temperature sensors for the launch, which is designed to expose the material to the harsh environment of high-speed flight.

“This launch will allow us to collect data and characterize the temperature performance in extreme environments, which are difficult to reproduce in a laboratory at full scale,” ORNL’s James Klett said. “The nose cone and fins were produced using a method that significantly cut production time.”

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