Topological interlocking of protective tiles for the space shuttle

Y. Estrin, Arcady Dyskin, Elena Pasternak, H.C. Khor, A.J. Kanel-Belov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


We propose anew concept of design of beat- and impact-resistant tile covering for space shuttles based upon topological interlocking of tiles. The key features of this type of tiling are as follows: firstly, the tiles Lire kept in place by virtue of the geometry of their contacting surfaces alone, so that no binding agent needs to be used; secondly, failure of an individual element does not compromise the structural integrity of the tile assembly and, moreover, a failed tile will be kept in place by its neighbours, thus maintaining its thermal protection function; thirdly, topological interlocking removes the need for connectors or other stress concentrators deleterious in extreme conditions of space flight and re-entry. Topological interlocking is scale and material independent, which permits combining tiles made from different materials in any proportion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-355
JournalPhilosophical Magazine Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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