NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Earth Return Aerocapture for the TransHab/Ellipsled VehicleThe current architecture being considered by NASA for a human Mars mission involves the use of an aerocapture procedure at Mars arrival and possibly upon Earth return. This technique would be used to decelerate the vehicles and insert them into their desired target orbits, thereby eliminating the need for propulsive orbital insertions. The crew may make the interplanetary journey in a large, inflatable habitat known as the TransHab. It has been proposed that upon Earth return, this habitat be captured into orbit for use on subsequent missions. In this case, the TransHab would be complimented with an aeroshell, which would protect it from heating during the atmospheric entry and provide the vehicle with aerodynamic lift. The aeroshell has been dubbed the "Ellipsled" because of its characteristic shape. This paper reports the results of a preliminary study of the aerocapture of the TransHab/Ellipsled vehicle upon Earth return. Undershoot and overshoot boundaries have been determined for a range of entry velocities, and the effects of variations in the atmospheric density profile, the vehicle deceleration limit, the maximum vehicle roll rate, the target orbit, and the vehicle ballistic coefficient have been examined. A simple, 180 degree roll maneuver was implemented in the undershoot trajectories to target the desired 407 km circular Earth orbit. A three-roll sequence was developed to target not only a specific orbital energy, but also a particular inclination, thereby decreasing propulsive inclination changes and post-aerocapture delta-V requirements. Results show that the TransHab/Ellipsled vehicle has a nominal corridor width of at least 0.7 degrees for entry speeds up to 14.0 km/s. Most trajectories were simulated using continuum flow aerodynamics, but the impact of high-altitude viscous effects was evaluated and found to be minimal. In addition, entry corridor comparisons have been made between the TransHab/Ellipsled and a modified Apollo capsule which is also being considered as the crew return vehicle; because of its slightly higher lift-to-drag ratio, the TransHab has a modest advantage with regard to corridor width. Stagnation-point heating rates and integrated heat loads were determined for a range of vehicle ballistic coefficients and entry velocities.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Langley Research Center
Document Type
Muth, W. D.
(Tennessee Univ. Knoxville, TN United States)
Hoffmann, C.
(Tennessee Univ. Knoxville, TN United States)
Lyne, J. E.
(Tennessee Univ. Knoxville, TN United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
October 1, 2000
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
No Preview Available