By Cameron Chai
The Space Foundation has announced that a flexible light-weight aerogel insulating material has been inducted to its Space Technology Hall of Fame. Dr. George L. Gould, the Vice President of R&D of Aspen Aerogels, has also been inducted by the foundation to the Hall of Fame.
He played a major role in the expansion and adaption of aerogels for use in commercial applications.
Initially, light-weight flexible aerogel insulating material was made to be used as a barrier at very high temperaturesthat exist during the launch of a rocket and that affect spacecraft since they are exposed to extreme cold and heat. Due to the high cost and fragility of silica aerogels NASA engaged Aspen Systems and the Cryogenics Test Laboratory present at Kennedy Space Center for manufacturing easy-to-use and affordable aerogel composite blankets for use in space applications.
The product development was continued by Aspen Aerogels, which is a spin-off from Aspen Systems, which helped create three variations namely Spaceloft, Pyrogel and Cryogel. These three variations are currently utilized in automotive, construction, industrial, refrigeration, and for other commercial uses. Aspen Aerogels manufactures its blankets for use in extreme environments in space and on Earth.
Aspen Systems and its CEO and President, Dr. Kang P. Lee have been also recognized by the Hall of Fame for their role in aerogel development.