ILC Dover Receives Go-Ahead From NASA for the Intelligent Flexible Materials for Inflatable Space Structures Program

Press Release From: ILC Dover
Posted: Wednesday, March 2, 2005

ILC Dover ( today announced it has received notice of award from NASA on a program that will directly address many of the NASA exploration objectives and technical challenges noted in NASA's Human & Robotic Technology (H&RT) Project Formulation Plan.

The goal of ILC's program is to improve system reliability and increase infrastructure flexibility by incorporating intelligence and material improvements in inflatable materials that can be used in a variety of system architectures. Inflatable structures will play a major role in future exploration missions since they offer high packing efficiency for reduced mass and launch costs.

The benefits of using structures with readily collapsible walls are the following:

  • Reduced stowage volume (or increased packing efficiency), which can have a profound effect on launch vehicle size and thus mission cost.
  • Reduced mass, which is realized when comparing all features equally with mechanical systems.
  • Reduced complexity, which results in higher reliability than mechanically deployable systems.
  • Increased design flexibility, which enables inflatable structures to be made into a multitude of shapes that can extend in various directions.

Recent advancements in materials science and electrical engineering have created several technologies that can be applied to the walls of these inflatable structures to provide intelligence for improved performance and sustainability in mission applications. ILC currently is employing printed or etched conductive traces in products for medical, architectural, and space use.

"This program is one step forward to helping NASA realize their space exploration objectives," said William Wallach, President of ILC Dover. "ILC Dover is proud to support this effort, and we are looking forward to applying our engineered film and fabric design expertise in the areas of space suits, space and surface habitats, airlocks, ballutes and decelerators."

About ILC Dover

Since 1947, ILC has been active in the design and development of products for both government and industry. Most ILC products are comprised of softgoods materials - products that are flexible by nature and result in innovative solutions to customer problems.

Whether protecting personnel in hostile environments, containing potent powder pharmaceuticals, or developing unique inflatable devices, ILC's record of performance is enviable. By drawing from a blend of highly qualified personnel and a sound base of both proven and innovative technologies (the same attributes that helped us put man on the moon and rovers on Mars), ILC Dover continues to develop reliable hardware and unique softgoods.

Our Department of Defense, commercial, and NASA customers rely heavily on ILC's multi-disciplined technical expertise to provide inventive solutions for a wide range of applications.

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