The issues with cardboard honeycomb
Air dropped payloads require impact-mitigating solutions to ensure cargo is delivered 100% mission capable. Current missions use cardboard honeycomb as an energy absorbing device to “soften” the landing. The operational envelope of cardboard directly constrains payload size, weight, drop times, horizontal glide distances, and speed. Future missions involving large horizontal glides are outside the operational envelope of cardboard honeycomb due to its poor shearing properties.
MetaCORE offers greater predictability and reliability
MetaCORE is an advanced material with isotropic energy absorbing properties that eliminates the 200% to 600% asymmetry in cardboard honeycomb’s material properties. It was developed by Multiscale Systems under a NASA SBIR Phase I/II contract as a lightweight low-cost material for non-defense aerospace and ground vehicle applications (est. ~$1Bn commercial market). With some modification to the existing manufacturing process, it would be an ideal energy absorber for vastly expanding airdrop operational envelopes. This is a dual-use technology with TRL 4 for aerial delivery applications.