Aerospace is defined as the earth’s atmosphere or the space beyond and thus encompasses a range of travel parameters. Flight within the earth’s atmosphere can include airline travel, or more specialist defence flights, and even zeppelins and hot air balloons. Wider travel outside of the earth’s atmosphere includes manned and unmanned space missions and a wide range of crafts from satellites to exploratory rovers.
Given the scope of the Aerospace industry technical textiles play a wide variety of roles. Their use in the craft structure is often in the form of composites which are a technical fibre, such as carbon, woven into a fabric and then set in a resin to create a tough component with a low weigh, also having very good heat and fire resistance. Textiles may also be used as filters or for reinforcement in hose’s or tyres.
They fulfil specialist roles for Technical Apparel and Personal Protective equipment, such as the G-suits worn by defence pilots which are required to inflate and put pressure on the pilots body to maintain blood flow and prevent the pilot from blacking out in flight. Space suits have very different technical requirements, being designed to protect the wearer from pressure changes, extreme temperature changes, whilst allowing a flow of oxygen, removal of carbon dioxide and not restricting movement.
Perhaps an essential part of flight is that of landing and textiles are required to perform in this role as parachutes bringing the wearer safely back to earth. However, as recently demonstrated by the Mars Curiosity rover, parachutes are not limited to human wear, as the parachute was a crucial component to the rovers landing.
The below video looks at the testing of the Mars Curiosity parachute:
The following presentation is very informative on the topic of application of textiles in Aerospace;