Dan Rasky of NASA Ames is presenting what has be done and what could be done with the PICA heat shield at Space Access 2019.
In 2011-2012 the Curiosity Mars rover mission used a PICA heat shield.
The Osiris-Rex was launched in 2016 and will return in 2023 and is using a PICA heat shield.
SpaceX Dragon is using the PICA heat shield.
PICA (Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator) has a carbon fiber substrate. It uses phenolic as a transfer. You can reload the phenolic and get hundreds of reuses. If you do not reload the phenolic you get 10-20 re-entry reuses.
Nextbigfuture notes that this would seem to relate to part of the SpaceX Falcon 9 block 5 major maintenance after 10 uses.
NASA calls PICA multi-use. The 1996 PICA patent has timed out. PICA is now public domain.
Tires and brakes are not reusable but you can get a lot of reuses.
SpaceX Starship they are trying to get a heat shielding that can last for the full life of the vehicle.
Fiber Materials Incorporated and SpaceX are producing PICA heat shields.
SpaceX and Elon Musk are working on a metallic thermal protection system (TPS) for the new Starship. Dan Rasky says it is a difficult problem but he believes SpaceX has a shot at making it work. Dan has sent Elon material that he thinks will be helpful to make the metallic TPS work.
SOURCE – Live Coverage of Dan Rasky presentation at Space Access 2019
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com