Study and Development of a Sub-Orbital Re-Entry Demonstrator

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R. Savino et al. (2014), JBIS, 67, pp.74-81

Refcode: 2014.67.74
Keywords: Aerothermodynamics, deployable, re-entry system, sounding rockets

The Italian and European Space Agencies are supporting a research programme, developed in Campania region by a cluster of industries, research institutes and universities, on a low-cost re-entry capsule, able to return payloads from the ISS to Earth and/or to perform short-duration scientific missions in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The ballistic capsule is characterized by a deployable, disposable "umbrella-like" heat shield that allows relatively small dimensions at launch and a sufficient exposed surface area in re-entry conditions, reducing the ballistic coefficient and leading to acceptable heat fluxes, mechanical loads and final descent velocity. ESA is supporting a preliminary study to develop a flight demonstrator of the capsule to be embarked as a secondary payload onboard a sub-orbital sounding rocket. The deployable thermal protection system concept may be applied to future science and robotic exploration mission requiring planetary entry and, possibly also to missions in the framework of Human Space flight, requiring planetary entry or re-entry. The technology offers also an interesting potential for aerobraking, aerocapture and for de-orbiting. This paper summarizes the results of these activities, which are being more and more refined as the work proceeds, including the definition and analysis of the mission scenario, the aerodynamic, aerothermodynamic, mechanical and structural analyses and the technical definition of avionics, instrumentation and main subsystems.


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