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Neptune Aerocapture Systems AnalysisA Neptune Aerocapture Systems Analysis is completed to determine the feasibility, benefit and risk of an aeroshell aerocapture system for Neptune and to identify technology gaps and technology performance goals. The high fidelity systems analysis is completed by a five center NASA team and includes the following disciplines and analyses: science; mission design; aeroshell configuration screening and definition; interplanetary navigation analyses; atmosphere modeling; computational fluid dynamics for aerodynamic performance and database definition; initial stability analyses; guidance development; atmospheric flight simulation; computational fluid dynamics and radiation analyses for aeroheating environment definition; thermal protection system design, concepts and sizing; mass properties; structures; spacecraft design and packaging; and mass sensitivities. Results show that aerocapture can deliver 1.4 times more mass to Neptune orbit than an all-propulsive system for the same launch vehicle. In addition aerocapture results in a 3-4 year reduction in trip time compared to all-propulsive systems. Aerocapture is feasible and performance is adequate for the Neptune aerocapture mission. Monte Carlo simulation results show 100% successful capture for all cases including conservative assumptions on atmosphere and navigation. Enabling technologies for this mission include TPS manufacturing; and aerothermodynamic methods and validation for determining coupled 3-D convection, radiation and ablation aeroheating rates and loads, and the effects on surface recession.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Langley Research Center
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Lockwood, Mary Kae
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
AIAA Paper 2004-4951
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Conference and Exhibit
Location: Providence, RI
Country: United States
Start Date: August 16, 2004
End Date: August 19, 2004
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Funding Number(s)
OTHER: 23-800-90-10
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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