Innovative Manufacturing/Materials in Hypersonic Thermal Protection Systems

Navy SBIR 22.2 - Topic N222-127
SSP - Strategic Systems Programs
Opens: May 18, 2022 - Closes: June 15, 2022 (12:00pm est)    [ View Q&A ]

N222-127 TITLE: Innovative Manufacturing/Materials in Hypersonic Thermal Protection Systems

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR); Hypersonics; Space

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace Environments;Materials / Processes; Weapons

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop a weather-resistant, conductive Thermal Protection System (TPS) material, which can survive hypersonic flight environments and is manufactured by methods/processes with high uniformity/reproducibility.

DESCRIPTION: Current generation hypersonic vehicle Thermal Protection System (TPS) materials provide adequate thermal resistance but have limited structural capability in all-weather environments and a low level of manufacturing sophistication. This leads to high levels of variability and introduces program and performance risk. Hypersonic vehicles experience temperatures in excess of 3000°F and encounter elevated levels of shock and vibration. These vehicles must also be able to fly through all types of weather and withstand precipitation at high speeds. Developing and integrating conductive TPS materials capable of withstanding the harsh environments and weather experienced through flight is a priority for enhancing performance in hypersonic vehicles. Proposers should utilize publicly available data on hypersonic flight conditions when identifying material solutions, specific requirements will be provided in the Phase II. Material solutions that could yield agile configurations with tailored conductivity throughout the TPS would provide more versatile hypersonic vehicles. While proposed materials must meet thermal, dielectric, mechanical and conductive specifications, solutions must also maintain uniformity when manufactured in bulk and ensure ease of assembly.

Solutions proposed to this SBIR topic should apply some of the advanced aerospace composite materials and manufacturing technology developed over recent years; including but not limited to: fiber reinforcement, fiber orientation, ultra-high temperature ceramics, high-temperature dielectrics, and additive manufacturing to develop reliable, uniform, thermally conductive/high strength materials and near-net shape components in form-factors applicable to Navy hypersonic flight vehicles. Specific form factors and requirements are held at higher distribution levels and shall be provided upon contract award as applicable.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and SSP in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advanced phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Demonstrate a proof of concept for conductivity and structural capability of materials/manufacturing solutions at the desk top/lab scale level. Figures of merit for consideration and to be defined are dielectric properties, physical density, mechanical and compressive strength, and in-plane/through thickness thermal conductivity up to 3000°F. Address manufacturing approaches, uniform producibility concerns, and scale-up potential for production of aerospace grade hardware.

The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Produce prototype hardware to the requirements, materials, form factors and manufacturing approaches defined from Phase I. Further material, thermal and mechanical characterization data shall also be provided in order to assess replacement risk against current incumbent materials. At the end of Phase II, prototype hardware will be provided for government evaluation in a relative hypersonic environment.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The final product shall be a prototype and design package outlining the material and manufacturing/assembly methods. A suitable material solution and assembly method is required for the future system to ensure reliability and performance throughout flight. This technology can be transitioned to Navy and Air Force hypersonic and ballistic re-entry weapon systems. Solution materials would have applicability in commercial access-to-space environment as well as commercial aerospace, and gas turbine engine applications.


  1. Soboyejo, W. O., Obayemi, J. D., & Annan, E. (2015). Review of High Temperature Ceramics for Aerospace Applications. Advanced Materials Research, 385-407.
  2. Randy J. Tobe, Ramana V. Grandhi. Hypersonic vehicle thermal protection system model optimization and validation with vibration tests. Aerospace Science and Technology, Volume 28, Issue 1, 2013, Pages 208-213, ISSN 1270-9638.
  3. Glass, David. Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC) Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) and Hot Structures for Hypersonic Vehicles. 15th AIAA International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference, 14 June 2012.
  4. Yang, Ya-zheng; Yang, Jia-ling; Fang, Dai-ning. Research progress on thermal protection materials and structures of hypersonic vehicles. Applied Mathematics & Mechanics, Jan2008, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p51-60. 10p. 3 Diagrams.

KEYWORDS: Weather-Resistant Materials; Thermal Protection System; Manufacturability; High Thermal Materials; Thermal Resistance; Reentry Vehicles; Hypersonic Vehicle Heat Loads; Conductive Materials.


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.2 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its 22.2 SBIR BAA pre-release on April 20, 2022, which opens to receive proposals on May 18, 2022, and closes June 15, 2022 (12:00pm est).

Direct Contact with Topic Authors: During the pre-release period (April 20, 2022 thru May 17, 2022) proposing firms have an opportunity to directly contact the Technical Point of Contact (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the specific BAA topic. Once DoD begins accepting proposals on May 18, 2022 no further direct contact between proposers and topic authors is allowed unless the Topic Author is responding to a question submitted during the Pre-release period.

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** TOPIC Q&A **
Questions answered 6/6/22/22
Q1. The topic Objective in line 1 and similarly the Description in line 6 refer to a "conductive Thermal Protection (TPS) material". At other points, the Description mentions "tailored conductivity throughout the TPS" and "thermally conductive/high strength materials". Conductivity appears thus to mean thermal conductivity, such that hot spots do not develop on the vehicle. Is it correct to infer that electrical conductivity is not a consideration?
A1. Thermal and electrical conductivity are both of interest.
Q2. Regarding the Description’s "in excess of 3000°F", what is the maximum expected temperature the thermal protection is likely to experience? Or, what heat loads is the TPS likely to experience?
A2. These specifics will be provided upon contract award. Utilize publically available data for boost glide hypersonic systems in regards to temperature. Propose what your material is capable of withstanding.
Q3. What is the maximum temperature permitted at the vehicle’s surface, i.e., behind the thermal protection system?
A3. 3000 F
Q4. The Objective calls for the TPS material to ‘survive hypersonic flight’. Does this mean the material must remain intact throughout the mission? May it experience some degradation while performing its protective function?
A4. Degradation/ablation occurs on the current system. As long as the weapons system makes it to the target that is considered surviving hypersonic flight.
Questions answered 5/31/22
Q1. Are the vehicle components of interest composite only, or are there components made of light alloys that might benefit from TPM?
A1. There is not a specific material of interest, we are interested in all novel ideas that can withstand the harsh hypersonic environment the TPS experiences throughout flight.
Questions answered 5/17/22
Q1. Under OBJECTIVE, it states that the weather-resistant "conductive TPS material" and then under the DESCRIPTION, it states that the TPS materials must provide adequate thermal resistance. Is the intent of the design to be such that the surface exposed to the environment (weather-resistant) is thermally conductive and then when combined with the rest of the system design provides the overall thermal resistance for the vehicle design?
A1. The intent is to produce a weather resistant TPS material that is electrically conductive and thermally resistant.
Q2. Is the weather resistant system intended to be be a vehicle protection system that compliments the underlying TPS or is it to be an integral part of the TPS.
A2. The solution can compliment the current TPS or it can be the TPS itself as long as the final solution meets weather resistance requirements.
Questions answered 5/6/22
Q1. Is reusability a concern? If not - do you have a targeted operating time at max temperature?
A1. The material does not need to be reused.  It is a one-time shot.  The operating time of flight is anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour.
Q2. The topic is fairly broad with specific end use in a hypersonic structure. Do we have flexibility to target, for example, any of the following? Aeroshell structural materials, coatings, solutions for leading edges, etc? Or is there a more specific preference?
A2. There is flexibility on areas to target. There is not one specific preference.
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