Inflatable Re-entry vehicle to be tested at Wallops

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Swampcat

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Rocket to Launch Inflatable Re-entry Capsule

Researchers from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., are working to develop a new kind of lightweight inflatable spacecraft outer shell to slow and protect reentry vehicles as they blaze through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds.

They will test a technology demonstrator from a small sounding rocket to be launched at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Va. The launch is scheduled for Aug. 17.

The Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment, or IRVE, looks like a giant mushroom when it's inflated. For the test, the silicon-coated Kevlar aeroshell is vacuum-packed inside a 16-inch (40.6 cm) diameter cylinder, but once it unfurls and is pumped full of nitrogen it is almost 10 feet (3 m) wide.

Engineers say the concept could help land bigger objects on Mars. "We'd like to be able to land more mass on Mars," said Neil Cheatwood, IRVE's principal investigator and chief scientist of the Hypersonics Project within NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program. "To land more mass you have to have more drag. We need to maximize the drag area of the entry system. We want to make it as big as we can, but the limitation has been the launch vehicle diameter."
 
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Swampcat

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NASA Launches New Technology: An Inflatable Heat Shield

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. -- A successful NASA flight test has shown that a spacecraft returning to Earth can use an inflatable heat shield to slow and protect itself as it enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. This was the first time anyone has successfully flown an inflatable reentry capsule, according to engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center.

"This was a huge success," said Mary Beth Wusk, IRVE project manager, based at Langley. "IRVE was a small-scale demonstrator. Now that we've proven the concept, we'd like to build more advanced aeroshells capable of handling higher heat rates."
Launch video is included with the article.
 
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crazyeddie

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Swampcat":e81mmqvr said:
Researchers from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., are working to develop a new kind of lightweight inflatable spacecraft outer shell to slow and protect reentry vehicles as they blaze through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds.
This story immediately brought to mind the thrilling aerobraking scene from the movie 2010, which is the first instance I can recall of the suggestion of using inflatable heat shields:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irwanSk45Dw
 
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webtaz99

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WooHoo! It's about time that NASA tries this out. Too bad this didn't happen many years ago.
 
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Swampcat

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crazyeddie":1igkxaoc said:
This story immediately brought to mind the thrilling aerobraking scene from the movie 2010, which is the first instance I can recall of the suggestion of using inflatable heat shields...
From what I have been reading on the subject, the inflatable heat shield concept has been around since the '60's and was first flown by the Russians as part of their Mars-96 spacecraft in 1996. Two further tests of this technology by Russia, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, were not successful.
 
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JonClarke

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Swampcat":1d6s3h7n said:
crazyeddie":1d6s3h7n said:
This story immediately brought to mind the thrilling aerobraking scene from the movie 2010, which is the first instance I can recall of the suggestion of using inflatable heat shields...
From what I have been reading on the subject, the inflatable heat shield concept has been around since the '60's and was first flown by the Russians as part of their Mars-96 spacecraft in 1996. Two further tests of this technology by Russia, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, were not successful.
The Mars 96 penetratorsnever got a chance to show their stuff. Presumably there were preliminary tests, but I have seen no records of this.

The later Russian inflatable heatshield tests were partly successful. There were three, the first successfully reentered but the airbag system that was to allow soft landing did not inflate and the test craft was badly damaged. The second launch was a failure due to upper stage problems. The third test also entered successsfully, but the system was never recovered.

Jon
 
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webtaz99

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I am glad to see that it went well, and I can't wait to see what they will do next. :mrgreen:
 
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