TVNZ/One News: Ceramic may coat future NASA spacecrafts

New Zealand scientists are helping to develop the next generation of space-capable aircraft by working on the heatshields which will be necessary to prevent the aircraft melting.

A different design from the space shuttles currently being retired, the new craft will make use of scramjets to power them into space – the immense speeds achieved mean that the craft will experience temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius, and so will need sophisticated heatshields to protect them.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Krumdieck told TV ONE’s Breakfast programme that the materials are likely to be made of ceramic, as the material does not corrode and is able to stand very high temperatures and that makes it perfect in using it to protect the outside of the new spacecraft.

“But she says the ceramic cannot be painted or glazed onto the craft, like on a coffee cup.

“”It has to be grown, molecule at a time and that’s the process I am developing,” Krumdieck says.”