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Ballute Entry Systems for Lunar Return and Low-Earth-Orbit Return Missions

Clark, Ian G. and Braun, Robert D. (2008) Ballute Entry Systems for Lunar Return and Low-Earth-Orbit Return Missions. Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, 45 (3). pp. 619-630. ISSN 0022-4650. doi:10.2514/1.31612.

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This study investigates the feasibility of using ballutes for Earth entry at both lunar- and low-Earth-orbit return velocities. Multiple entry strategies were investigated using analysis methods suitable for conceptual design and assuming an Apollo-derived entry vehicle. Primary ballute size drivers are the thermal limitations and areal densities of the ballute material. Lunar-return entries that jettison the ballute after achieving low-Earth-orbit conditions were shown to reduce heating rates to within reusable thermal protection system limits. Deceleration was mitigated to approximately 4 g along a lunar-return trajectory when a moderate amount of lift was applied subsequent to ballute jettison. Investigation of a lower mass lunar-return cargo variant of the Crew Exploration Vehicle was shown to reduce ballute system mass and size. Ballute system mass as a percentage of the total entry mass was shown to be relatively independent of the entry mass for the range of lunar-return missions evaluated. However, material requirements indicate that continued technology development may be required for lunar-return system viability. Missions aimed at augmenting existing systems to provide downmass capability from the International Space Station showed promising results in terms of entry loads, required material areal densities, and ballute system mass and size.

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Additional Information:© 2008 by Ian G. Clark. This work was completed as part of a larger study entitled “Ultralightweight Inflatable Thin-Film Ballutes for Human Return from the Moon,” performed for the NASA Exploration Systems Human and Robotic Technology program through NASA Broad Area Announcement 04-02. The authors wish to thank James Masciarelli of the Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation for leading this NASA-contracted study and for valuable insight regarding the technical scope of this systems analysis effort.
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Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20230310-764535000.4
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:119917
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:15 Mar 2023 02:02
Last Modified:15 Mar 2023 02:02

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