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Innovative Thermal Management Concepts For Thermal Protection Of Future Space Vehicles

Project Reference: 312807
Activity Code: SPA.2012.2.2-02
Coordinator:German Aerospace Center (DLR)


There are key space technologies existing at European level and during the last space calls many European projects are framed on space re-entry, but none of them dealing with radically new technologies, able to compete with technologies from other leading countries or allowing collaboration with them. The THOR project will provide knowledge in key space technologies for accessing space, through the design and development of disruptive technologies based on novel thermal management concepts which are specifically targeted to atmospheric entries of future space vehicles and hypersonic transport vehicles. This project, including the participation of several SMEs and relevant end-users, aims at the collaboration among them to strengthen the European space sector and enable international cooperation.

The technical approach is focused non-local concepts for thermal management including active cooling as well as passive cooling technologies, in order to extend the capabilities of re-usable Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) towards the requirement of future space flight including hypersonic transport. To achieve this technical target radically new thermal management solutions will be implemented in a new concept of TPS together with innovative materials and unique ceramic structures, reaching a TRL 2-3 at the end of the project. The passive systems will be based on thermal equilibration establishing an efficient heat transfer from highly loaded areas to regions with less loading. New ceramic matrix composites incorporating a new generation of highly thermal conductive fibres will be applied. In addition, active cooling will be implemented by passing a fluid through a ceramic porous structure. The project includes a strong effort on design, modelling and simulation in order to fulfil the technical requirements before integrating the complete TPS. Finally the concepts will be verified by ground tests under realistic entry conditions in high enthalpy facilities.

Project Details:

Start Date: 2013-01-01
End Date: 2015-12-31
EU Contribution: EUR 1 967 767
Total Costs: EUR 2 715 741
Programme Acronym: FP7-Space
Subprogramme Area: SPA.2012.2.2-02
Contract type: Small or medium-scale focused research project
Administrative Contact Person: Iris GLASMACHERS (Ms)
Project Website: www.thor-space.eu


  • Turkiye Bilimsel Ve Teknolojik Arastirma Kurumu, Turkey
  • Scuola Universitaria Professionale Della Svizzera Italiana (Supsi), Schweiz/Suisse
  • Thales Alenia Space Italia Spa, Italia
  • Aerospace & Advanced Composites Gmbh, Österreich
  • Fundacion Tecnalia Research & Innovation, España
  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Japan
  • Erbicol SA, Schweiz/Suisse
  • Fluid Gravity Engineering Limited, United Kingdom