FMI’s Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA) family of materials includes flight-heritage PICA, as was used for Stardust Sample Return Capsule and Mars Science Laboratory thermal protection systems, as well as Phenolic Impregnated Felt (PIF) for joint and gap fill applications, and PICA variants with tailored constituents for desired performance and mass. Low-density ablative material may be designed into monolithic and multi-tile Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) for planetary entry and re-entry heat shield applications. The material system is tailored to leverage heritage applications and enabling a wider range of capabilities or mission environments.


  • Available in block materials, custom shaped tiles, and engineered net-shaped TPS components
  • Net-shaped Components are engineered to suit component design and fiber-oriented for optimal performance
  • Pre-assembly of tile joints with Phenolic Impregnated Felt (PIF) Gap Filler results in faster and easier heat shield assembly
  • Graded-density PICA is available for optimized performance and TPS weight reduction
  • PICA surface densification offers robust mechanical protection against transit damage, handling damage, and in-flight object damage


  • High TRL/MRL of PICA TPS material enables design and performance modeling for faster delivery of TPS system
  • PICA materials can withstand heating rates greater than 1000 W/cm2 during entry/descent
  • PICA Felt Gap filling technology enables wider range of missions than RTV elastomer gap fill materials at reduced TPS areal mass


  • Utilized in Earth re-entry, Mars entry, and other potential planetary applications
  • Large Cargo Capsule PICA TPS enabled MSL Curiosity Rover and commercial flight cargo return
  • Sample return capsules (SRCs) TPS for scientific exploration missions such as Stardust and OSIRIS Rex