Reusable space vehicles, which must withstand re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, require external protection systems (TPS) which are usually in the forms of rigid surface in areas of high or moderate working temperature. High heat fluxes and temperatures related to high performance hypervelocity flights also require the use of TPS materials having good oxidation and thermal shock resistance, dimensional stability, and ablation resistance. Components by these materials are usually fabricated, starting from either billets or plate stocks, by uniaxial hot pressing, and complex parts, such as low radius edges, are then obtained by electrical discharge machining technique. This article investigates an alternative fabrication technology, based on plasma spraying, to produce near net shape components. Results of experimental activities, such as optimization of plasma spraying parameters based on a DOE approach, are reported and discussed.

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