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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