Tue, May 01, 2012
Aspen Aerogels' Flexible Barrier Protects Spacecraft During Launch
The Space Foundation has inducted low-density, light-weight flexible aerogel insulating material into its Space Technology Hall of Fame. The foundation also inducted Dr. George L. Gould, Aspen Aerogels' vice president of research and development, into the Hall of Fame for his role in developing and adapting aerogels for commercial use.
Flexible aerogels were originally developed to serve as a barrier to the extreme temperatures that occur during rocket launches and that affect spacecraft as they are exposed to both high heat and severe cold. Because the initial silica aerogels were fragile and expensive, NASA contracted with the Cryogenics Test Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center and Aspen Systems, Inc. to produce affordable and easy-to-use aerogel composite blankets for space applications.
Aspen Aerogels continued its development of the product to produce three variations - Cryogel, Pyrogel and Spaceloft - that are now used in industrial, construction, refrigeration, automotive and other commercial applications. The leading provider of aerogel blankets in the United States, Aspen Aerogels produces its blankets for extreme environments on Earth and in space.
The Hall of Fame also honored Aspen Systems, Inc., and Dr. Kang P. Lee, president & chief executive officer of Aspen Systems, for their roles in developing aerogels. "These inductees are extraordinary examples of how space research and development can, eventually, make our lives on Earth safer, more comfortable and more environmentally sustainable," said Space Foundation Director - Space Awareness Kevin Cook.
The Space Foundation established the Space Technology Hall of Fame in 1988 to increase public awareness of the benefits that result from space exploration programs and to encourage further innovation. It honors technologies that were originally developed for space applications and have now been modified for products and services used on Earth. (Image provided by NASA)
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