A Bay Area NASA research center has won the 2011 NASA Government Invention of the Year.
The NASA Ames Research Center, located in Moffett Field in Mountain View, earned the top honor for the fourth time in the past decade -- this time for developing toughened uni-piece fibrous reinforced oxidation-resistant composite, or TUFROC.
TUFROC is a light-weight, low-cost thermal protection system to be used on space crafts re-entering the Earth's atmosphere at top speeds, according to an Ames spokeswoman.
Invented by Ames scientists David A. Stewart and Daniel B. Leiser, the new technology is the first lightweight, inexpensive, flight-tested, reusable thermal protection system able to sustain temperatures above 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the research center.
"It's truly an honor to win NASA's Government Invention of the Year again in 2011," Ames Director Pete Worden said in a statement. "I am extremely proud of our advances in thermal protection systems. This award not only exemplifies the major contributions in TPS research at Ames over the past five decades, but signals that Ames will continue to lead the way in advancing entry systems for future NASA and commercial spacecraft."
The research center received the same award in 2007, 2008 and 2010 for the invention of a new type of ceramic, a high-speed 3-D laser scanner and new aircraft traffic methodologies, respectively.