Expertise and technology conquering the universe

Corticeira Amorim has always been a key technological partner from the very outset of space exploration, providing insulation solutions to NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The beginning of a new age of discoveries, offering an even more glorious horizon for cork and the realisation of its full potential, as infinite as Space itself.

Integration of cork in spacecraft and rockets began with the Apollo XI mission, that put the first men on the moon. Building on its successes, it was used in the Titan, Delta, Mars Rovers and Atlantis programmes. In the European space programme, Corticeira Amorim has also provided cork solutions for thermal and anti-vibration shields, and made an important contribution in the framework of the Ariane 5 project and the Vega rocket.

Ablative thermal protection

For the future, the successful tests for the use of cork in the exploration of space fuels new expectations, including the application of solutions for an interplanetary programme.

Insulation materials for the aerospace industry, commercialised under the brand, TPS (Thermal Protection Systems), play an important role in the successful launch and operation of manned and unmanned space vehicles. When a rocket or spacecraft is projected into space, its structure is subjected to such extreme temperatures that it risks being carbonised. The same occurs on its return journey, as soon as the craft enters the Earth's atmosphere. TPS materials are pioneers in providing thermal protection shields, thanks to a unique cork compound, which has withstood many decades of space travel.

Corticeira Amorim’s high-quality solutions for the aerospace industry make them ideal thermal protection materials, offering excellent ablation and insulation properties. They have low weight, reduced thermal conductivity and create a resistant layer that protects the interior of the craft, guaranteeing its integrity and delaying the degradation caused by the huge thermal amplitude that it has to support.

These characteristics were decisive for the success of an ambitious project developed for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars exploration programme. Corticeira Amorim led a 100% Portuguese consortium, with the participation of Critical Materials, PIEP and ISQ, which developed a new atmospheric re-entry capsule that promises to become a reference solution in space missions, combining the best of Portuguese cork and engineering. The new capsule, with optimised thermomechanical characteristics, will enable a passive atmospheric re-entry, i.e. dispensing with the need to use parachutes or other auxiliary systems. It will bring back samples from the Red Planet in 2026.

Cork is applied in components that are critical for shuttle safety - usually on the cone and other parts of the propulsion rockets attached to the spacecraft. Any error can be fatal to the equipment and the crew, and this therefore requires maximum rigour in terms of the effectiveness of TPS products.

Amorim Cork Composites Brochure [PDF]

"Cork. Don’t leave Earth without it!"

Donald Thomas
NASA Astronaut

"Cork is the composite of nature, a composite that has a unique combination of properties."

in NASA Tecnhical Reports Server

"I would like to thank the fantastic team at Amorim Cork Composites for the extraordinary support that contributed to the huge success of the NASA Space Programme!”

Donald Thomas
NASA Astronaut

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