Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Why are the Apollo and Orion command modules covered in a mylar-like film? And why wasn't it applied on the first Orion flight or the SkyLab missions?

At first I thought it might have something to do with the Moon missions, but it was included on Apollo 9 and (I think) Apollo 7 (both Earth orbital missions).


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read that it's Thermal protection ... and I searched and found this ...




From the same link ... 

Actually, it's Kapton (polyimide), not Mylar (polyethylene terephthalate) or multi-layer insulation. Kapton and Mylar are both DuPont trademarks for polymer films, so perhaps it is easy to get them confused.

According to the Apollo Experience Report: Thermal Protection Subsystem,

The thermal control requirements for the spacecraft in outer space necessitates a relatively low thermal absorptance-to-emittance ratio of 0.4 for the surface of the CM. This low ratio is achieved with a pressure-sensitive Kapton polyimide tape that is coated with aluminum and oxidized silicon monoxide and that is applied over the entire external surface of the ablator.


So it's for the extreme conditions out of Earth orbit as well as for re-entry.

And IIRC, the Skylab CM wasn't entirely covered in this tape, because the CM was facing the Sun in one particular attitude, which required more heat shielding than the Kapton could provide ...



Link to post
Share on other sites

Orion EFT-1 only needed tiles since it was an Earth orbital mission. The kapton tape is needed for lunar and deep space mission due to the faster speeds and more friction the spacecraft will experience.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...