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HEMI Seminar: Mark Opeka

October 30, 2015 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

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A Heated Subject – Hypersonic Vehicle Leading Edge/Nosetip Materials and Sub-Structures

Hypersonic vehicle leading edges and nosetips experience the highest temperatures experienced by the thermal protection systems (TPS) and are among the most significant design challenges. Rocket propulsion system nozzles offer very similar design complexities. The materials must be ablation-resistant, and the sub-structure designs must be able to handle the thermo-structural loads from the very high heating rates and also must shield the vehicle structure from the integrated heat loads over the operational heating cycle. The presentation will address the physics-based materials selection for high temperature, ablation-resistant performance as well as other approaches to achieve this capability. In addition, some of the design issues associated with these sub-systems will be discussed.


Dr. Mark Opeka has worked his entire career for the Navy conducting research and development of very high temp materials for missile propulsion and high speed vehicle thermal protection systems. After completing his BS (1980) and MS (1983) in Mechanical Engineering from the U of MD, he went on to earn his PhD (1995) in Materials Science and Engineering, also from the U of MD, with an emphasis in metallurgical thermodynamics and oxidation kinetics. He is currently supervisor for the Extreme Materials Group at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division in Bethesda MD, and directs the group research and development associated with technical ceramics, ceramic composites, and refractory metals and alloys. Dr. Opeka is the Propulsion Materials Subject Matter Expert for the Missile Defense Agency and provides technical direction of propulsion materials development and of the building of design property databases. He is the Conference Chairman for the Annual Conference on Composites, Materials, and Structures, which addresses these extreme environment materials.