SpaceWorks to Conduct High-Altitude Drop Test of Space Station Small Payload Return Capsule

Credit: SpaceWorks

ATLANTA, July 22, 2021 (SpaceWorks PR) – SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc (SEI), along with Earthly Dynamics LLC (EDC) and Aerial Delivery Solutions LLC (ADS), will attempt to autonomously land SEI’s RED-4U Capsule within specified range of a target after release from an altitude of 100k ft. This test will be the latest in a steady progression to advance SpaceWorks’ product line of Reentry Device (RED) capsules, including the RED-25 and RED-4U, that provide on-demand downmass capabilities from Earth orbit. The mission, designated Suborbital Test Vehicle 2 (STV-2), is funded through NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.

“Our RED devices are instrumental to advancing a space-based commercial economy where micro-gravity experiments and in-space manufacturing require a low-cost solution for rapid, safe and reliable payload return from space. We are thrilled to work with the teams at NASA, EDC, and ADS to continue to develop this first-of-its-kind reentry capsule,” said Tyler Kunsa, the RED Program Manager at SpaceWorks.

The key to executing precision terminal maneuvers for the RED-4U capsule is a state-of-the-art ram-air parafoil developed by EDC and manufactured by ADS.

“For years, Earthly Dynamics has pushed to advance low-cost, reliable payload delivery using guided parafoils,” said Dr. Benjamin León, Co-PI & Research Engineer at EDC. “Today, we are excited to supply the first commercial in-canopy flight control system for guided parafoils on SpaceWorks’ RED capsules. Our in-canopy, bleed-air flight control system, paired with a robust parachute from Aerial Delivery Systems, has the range and precision landing capabilities needed to reduce the landing ellipse for LEO payload return.”

The team is excited to announce that the STV-2 mission will also carry a payload from the Georgia Institute of Technology’s student-made STRATOS 1U Cubesat test platform. STRATOS will capture and telemeter real-time flight data throughout launch and recovery of the RED capsule.

“This project provides an outstanding experience for our students to work with professional engineers on a flight project with a demanding schedule and hardware integration task. The skills developed in projects like this one outside the classroom enable our students to contribute at a higher level when they transition to professional careers. We are thrilled to be a part of the team,” said Dr. Glenn Lightsey, the Director of the Space Systems Design Lab (SSDL) and Director of the Center for Space Technology And Research (CSTAR) at Georgia Tech.

The STV-2 high-altitude balloon drop test is scheduled for October 2021 and will be hosted by Near Space Corporation (NSC) out of their launch facilities in Madras, Oregon.

About SpaceWorks Enterprises:

SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI), based in Atlanta, GA, specializes in advanced concept analysis, systems engineering, product development, and economic consulting for a broad and diverse customer base. SpaceWorks is dedicated to advancing the state-of-the-art in the aerospace industry, from the early design phase to rapid prototyping and flight demonstration.

About Aerial Delivery Solutions:

Aerial Delivery Solutions, LLC (ADS), based in Kissimmee, FL, is a small company dedicated to improving the reliability of aerial delivery equipment. The founders of ADS have close to 50 years of technical experience in the parachute industry. ADS’s core competencies include a seasoned design know-how and the capability to manufacture prototypes, small quantity builds in a rapid development environment, and drop test support of those systems.

About Earthly Dynamics:  

Earthly Dynamics, LLC (EDC), based in Atlanta, GA, is a small engineering company focused on aerospace automation and control technologies. EDC provides an array of automation products for airdrop and recovery systems as well as research, development, and prototyping services. Products include in-canopy bleed-air control actuators, in-canopy sensor pods, a canopy flight counter, and adaptive flight software.

About NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program:

NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, part of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), rapidly demonstrates promising technologies for space exploration and the expansion of space commerce through suborbital testing with industry flight providers. The program matures capabilities needed for NASA missions and commercial applications while strategically investing in the growth of the U.S. commercial spaceflight industry.