Are there studies about using expansive foam such as polyurethane, so that it provides high volume & high cross section heatshielding, instead of inflatable ones, or in combination with inflatable ones.-basically expanded foam inflated heatshields, where large ablation can occur- once the outer skin is ablated away, theres still the whole low density foam to ablate?

By this I mean, inflation / expansion of foam is made in orbit, and is not lauched from earth already expanded.


Thanks to GremlinWranger comment, are there planned missions using such a concept for probes involving aerobraking or aerocapture or entry to some solar system body having an atmosphere ?

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    $\begingroup$ Studies certainly, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOOSE. That suggests there is a mass limit where foamed heat shields can dissipate enough energy $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2019 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ SLA, the standard ablator used nearly everywhere where an ablator is needed, including heatshields, is a spray-on foam. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @SF reading online pdf "SLA-220 product sheet" it states that it's molded panels and not sprayed on, which is different manufacturing process. (Third option which has not been used in this case could have been cnc machining out of a bigger foam block) $\endgroup$
    – qq jkztd
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:52

1 Answer 1


There was a proposed 'escape capsule' to be used to return from low Earth orbit called MOOSE (Man Out Of Space Easiest). It had an ablative heatshield backed up with an expanded polyurethane foam substrate. The foam was expanded prior to use, so that the 'escape capsule' didn't take up too much volume when stowed.

enter image description here

Never built or flown, but some tests were done.


  • $\begingroup$ this answer is equivalent to GremlinWranger's comment's content $\endgroup$
    – qq jkztd
    Jul 17, 2019 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ @qqjkztd As it happens, I didn't read the comments before I posted it. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2019 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ I understand, thank you for your answer! $\endgroup$
    – qq jkztd
    Jul 17, 2019 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ The acronym means "Manned Orbital Operations Safety Equipment". It has always meant "Manned Orbital Operations Safety Equipment". Any mention of any other acronym is the work of Eur- hrm Eastasian saboteurs. You are to report to the Ministry of Truth immediately. $\endgroup$
    – Eth
    Jul 17, 2019 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Eth clearly you are a sock puppet for Bullwinkle J. MOOSE $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2019 at 15:43

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