Ex-NASA CTO Bobby Braun Co-Founds Terminal Velocity Aerospace

RED-Data is a basketball ball sized device designed to record a re-entry event. (Credit: TVA)

ATLANTA, GA, July 10, 2012 (TVA PR) – Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLC (TVA) announced operation today as a new venture dedicated to improving reentry safety and furthering the utilization of outer space. TVA offers small protective devices for data collection during reentry breakup events, and for safe return of small payloads from space.

TVA was co-founded by Dr. Robert Braun, Director of the Georgia Tech Space Systems Design Laboratory, and Dr. John Olds, CEO of SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. [Editor’s Note: Braun served as NASA’s Chief Technologist in 2010-11.]

In recent years, 40 to 100 large, human-made objects reenter Earth’s atmosphere every year, with 10 to 40 percent of the object’s mass striking the ground. These objects include satellites, upper stage rockets, fairings, and other mission related hardware. There are roughly 3,000 objects in low Earth orbit that weigh more than 500 kg each. All of these objects will, at some point, reenter Earth’s atmosphere.

Our current knowledge of how reentry and breakup occurs is limited because of the difficulty in directly observing reentry events. There is little data available to calibrate reentry models, improve our ability to predict the reentry breakup process, or develop design criteria for future space hardware. This represents a measurable, and increasing, safety risk to people and property.

“Terminal Velocity is proactively working to reduce the uncertainty associated with atmospheric reentry and breakup of spacecraft and launch vehicle stages,” said Dominic DePasquale, the company’s CEO. “Our products directly address the needs of the reentry safety and design communities.”

TVA’s first product, RED-Data, is currently available. RED-Data provides unparalleled insight into the physics and dynamics of atmospheric breakup of reentering spacecraft and debris. RED-Data is a basketball sized device, with a mass of approximately 8 kg, that is encased in a heat shield. RED-Data rides with a host vehicle to space, records detailed data during the reentry event, and transmits that data to Earth before hitting the ground. RED-Data is based on the flight-proven Reentry Breakup Recorder (ReBR) designed and successfully flight demonstrated by The Aerospace Corporation based in Los Angeles, CA. TVA holds the exclusive license for The Aerospace Corporation’s patented ReBR technology.

Through an ongoing relationship with The Aerospace Corporation, and a research and development partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Space Systems Design Laboratory, TVA will expand its initial offering to include a full suite of RED products to address market needs for better research platforms for collecting reentry data and for cost-effective small payload return. The next generation of RED products will serve functions such as collection of reentry data from distributed sensors (RED-Sensor), technology test platform (RED-Test), small payload return (RED-Treasure), and “black box” safety recording for human spaceflight missions (RED-SafeReturn).

TVA is a Georgia-based limited liability company headquartered in Atlanta, GA. The firm also has operating offices in Washington, DC. TVA is privately held.