NIAC Focus: Magnetoshells for Human & Robotic Exploration

Top- Artist rendering of Magnetoshell Aerocapture concept. Bottom Left - RF injector operating on Argon. Bottom Right - Magnetoshell operating with internal gas feed and intercepting an accelerated neutral and plasma jet. (Credit: D. Kirtley)
Top- Artist rendering of Magnetoshell Aerocapture concept. Bottom Left – RF injector operating on Argon. Bottom Right – Magnetoshell operating with internal gas feed and intercepting an accelerated neutral and plasma jet. (Credit: D. Kirtley)

Magnetoshell Aerocapture for Manned Missions and Planetary Deep Space Orbiters
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

David Kirtley
MSNW, LLC

It is clear from past mission studies that a manned Mars mission, as well as deep space planetary orbiters will require aerobraking and aerocapture which use aerodynamic drag forces to slow the spacecraft. Aerocapture would enable long term studies of the outer planets and their moons that would not be possible with existing braking technologies. While utilizing planetary atmospheres to slow down and capture spacecraft would dramatically reduce the cost, launch mass, and travel time, current technologies require significant additional spacecraft mass and risk, as the spacecraft must descend deep into a planetary atmosphere that is not well characterized in order to produce significant drag on a relatively small, fixed dimension aeroshell or temperature and structurally sensitive inflatable ballute.

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An In-depth Look at Recent Altius Space Machines Contract Awards

Altius_logo_newBy Jonathan Goff
President and CEO
Altius Space Machines

Part 1 of 2

It has been a while since our last blog post, and those of you have been following the news over the last month may have noticed that Altius has recently been awarded or selected for negotiation on a few significant NASA technology development contracts. These four contracts are:

  • ISS Launched Cubesat Demonstration of Variable-Drag Magnetoshell Aerocapture – an SBIR Select Phase I that MSNW LLC of Redmond, WA is priming with Altius as subcontractor
  • Multi-purpose Interplanetary Deployable Aerocapture System (MIDAS) – an SBIR Select Phase I that Altius is priming with MSNW LLC as subcontractor
  • Kraken Asteroid Boulder Retrieval System – an Asteroid Redirect Mission BAA Phase I that Altius is priming with support from Boston-based Empire Robotics, Dr. Brad Blair of NewSpace Analytics, and the Materials Technology Lab at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, CO
  • Multipurpose SEP Module for ARM and Beyond – an Asteroid Redirect Mission BAA Phase I study where Altius will be supporting an industry team led by ExoTerra Resources of Littleton, CO.

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NASA Selects 3 Firms for Advanced Inflatable Entry Technology Development

A Global Aerospace ballute performs aerocapture for a lander at Mars (credit: Kees Veenenbos).

WASHINGTON — NASA has selected Airborne Systems North America of Santa Ana, Calif., ILC Dover LP of Frederica, Del., and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Littleton, Colo., to support agency inflatable aerodynamic decelerator research and development, including work on the Space Technology Program’s Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) project.

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Andrews Space Works on Aerocapture System for Planetary Probes, ISS Cargo Return

NASA recently announced that it would be conducting contract negotiations for 350 projects under its SBIR and STTR programs, which are aimed at promoting space technology development and transfer by small businesses. Parabolic Arc will be looking at a number of the proposals involving NewSpace companies that it regularly covers or which encompass interesting technologies.

This post takes a look at a hypersonic entry system for spacecraft aerocapture that is being developed by Andrews Space. The system could be used for spacecraft sent to other worlds as well as cargo return by space freighters such as Cygnus, ATV and HTV.

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