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Expertise and technology used to conquer the Universe

Since the dawn of Space exploration, Corticeira Amorim has been the main technological partner in supplying insulation solutions for NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). The integration of cork in spacecraft and rockets began with the Apollo 11 mission, which took Man to the Moon for the first time. From success to success, it has been part of the Titan, Delta, Mars Rovers and Atlantis programmes. In the European programme, Corticeira Amorim has also been responsible for integrating cork solutions in thermal and anti-vibration shields, with important contributions within the framework of the Ariane 5 project and the new Vega rocket.

"Cork. Don’t leave Earth without it!"
Donald Thomas, Astronauta da NASA

The insulation materials for the aerospace industry, marketed under the TPS brand (Thermal Protection Systems), play an important role in the success of the launch and operation of all spacecraft, whether manned or not. When a rocket or spacecraft is launched into space, its structure is subjected to such high temperatures that it risks being burnt up. The same occurs on its return to Earth, as soon as the spacecraft enters the atmosphere. TPS materials are pioneering in the thermal protection of shields, as a result of a unique cork compound which has withstood decades of space travel.

"Corticeira Amorim played such a fundamental role in the thermal protection system of the solid fuel boosters and I’m very grateful to its amazing team. The work they have done in the past caring for astronauts’ safety is greatly appreciated by all the teams that flew with the Space Shuttle during its 30+ year programme!”
Donald Thomas, Astronauta da NASA

The high-quality materials produced by Corticeira Amorim for the aerospace industry are perfect thermal protection materials, that offer excellent ablation and insulation properties. They maintain low weight, low thermal conductivity and create a resistant layer that protects the interior of the aerospace vehicle, thereby ensuring its integrity and delaying thermal degradation.

These characteristics proved to be 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, also including Critical Materials, PIEP and ISQ, that developed a new Earth re-entry capsule that promises to become a benchmark for space missions, combining the best of Portuguese cork and engineering. The new capsule, with optimized thermomechanical characteristics, will allow passive Earth re-entry, i.e. without the need for parachutes or other ancillary systems and will bring back samples from the Red Planet in 2026.

"Cork is nature's foam, a foam with a unique combination of properties."
in NASA Tecnhical Reports Server

The cork is applied to critical components for the spacecraft's safety - usually the nose cone and other parts of the propulsion rockets coupled to the spacecraft. Any error could be fatal to the equipment and crew, therefore the maximum standard is required for the efficiency of TPS products.

Looking ahead, successful testing of cork in the field of Space exploration has generated new expectations, involving the application of solutions in an interplanetary programme.