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Advancing Supersonic Retropropulsion Using Mars-Relevant Flight Data: An OverviewAdvanced robotic and human missions to Mars require landed masses well in excess of current capabilities. One approach to safely land these large payloads on the Martian surface is to extend the propulsive capability currently required during subsonic descent to supersonic initiation velocities. However, until recently, no rocket engine had ever been fired into an opposing supersonic freestream. In September 2013, SpaceX performed the first supersonic retropropulsion (SRP) maneuver to decelerate the entry of the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket. Since that flight, SpaceX has continued to perform SRP for the reentry of their vehicle first stage, having completed multiple SRP events in Mars-relevant conditions in July 2017. In FY 2014, NASA and SpaceX formed a three-year public-private partnership centered upon SRP data analysis. These activities focused on flight reconstruction, CFD analysis, a visual and infrared imagery campaign, and Mars EDL design analysis. This paper provides an overview of these activities undertaken to advance the technology readiness of Mars SRP.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Braun, Robert D.
(Colorado Univ. Boulder, CO, United States)
Sforzo, Brandon
(Georgia Inst. of Tech. Atlanta, GA, United States)
Campbell, Charles H.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
September 11, 2017
Publication Date
September 12, 2017
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
AIAA Space 2017 Conference(Orlando, FL)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 902152.04.05.03
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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