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13th January 2015, Washington, DC

NASA visits producer of critical thermal protection systems for its Orion spacecraft

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has had a firsthand look at work being done on advanced woven thermal protection systems used on the agency's Orion spacecraft during a visit to Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) in Bally, PA, last week.

Members of the press were invited to join Bolden and BRM President Ray Harries on a tour of the mill, during which the administrator learnt more about BRM's diverse product portfolio, ranging from military honour ribbons to spacecraft insulation systems.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, right, is given a tour of Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) manufacturing facility by BRM President Ray Harries on Friday, 9 January. © NASA

Bally Ribbon Mills has developed a 3D continuous weaving method that produces multi-layer textiles for a wide range of applications, including the critical thermal protection systems for NASA's Orion spacecraft.

Woven composite materials

New woven composite materials are an advanced space technology that mark a major milestone towards development of the space systems that will enable extending human and robotic presence throughout the solar system, according to NASA.

As a manufacturer of high-performance multidimensional (3D) woven materials, BRM is weaving the multifunctional thermal protection system padding used to insulate and protect NASA's Orion spacecraft.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden inspects a loom at Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) facility. © NASA

Orion, which recently completed its first flight test, will carry astronauts to Mars and return them safely to Earth with the help of this technology.

Space technology

Following the tour, Bolden gave brief remarks and took questions from reporters about NASA's partnership with American small businesses and the agency's investments in space technology that will enable future missions to an asteroid, Mars and beyond.

BRM's work on the advanced thermal protection system for Orion is being conducted under the auspices of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. The work is managed by the agency's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.

Vice President and Orion programme manager for Lockheed Martin space systems company Mike Hawes, left, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, centre, and Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) President Ray Harries. © NASA

The directorate continues to seek industry and university partnerships to assure the agency has the capabilities it needs, while helping America maintain its leadership in the technology-driven global economy, NASA reports.

www.nasa.gov

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