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Entry and Descent System Technologies

Description:

Scope Title:

Gas Generators for Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (HIADs)

Scope Description:

Development is desired of gas generator technologies to be used as inflation systems that result in improved mass efficiency and system complexity over current pressurized cold gas systems for inflatable structures. Inflation gas technologies can include warm or hot gas generators, sublimating powder systems, or hybrid systems; however, the final delivery gas temperature must not exceed 200 °C. Lightweight, high-efficiency gas inflation technologies capable of delivering gas between a range of 250 and 10,000 standard liters per minute (SLPM) are sought. This range spans a broad number of potential applications. Thus, a given response or solution need not address the entire range, but can instead focus on a narrower range and application. Additionally, the final delivery gas and its byproducts must not harm aeroshell materials such as the fluoropolymer liner of the inflatable structure. While pure gas chemistries are desired, minimal solid particulate is acceptable as a final byproduct. Water vapor as a final byproduct is also acceptable for lower flow (250 to 4,000 SLPM) and shorter duration missions, but it is undesirable for higher flow (8,000 to 10,000 SLPM) and longer duration missions. Chillers and/or filters can be included in a proposed solution, but they will be included in assessing overall system mass versus amount of gas generated. Gas delivery configurations that rely on active flow-control devices are not desired. Long-term mission applications will have inflatable volumes in the range of 1,200 to 4,000 ft3 with final inflation pressures in the range of 15 to 30 psid. Initial concepts will be demonstrated with small-scale volumes to achieve the desired inflation pressures and temperatures. The focus of Phase I development can be subscale manufacturing demonstrations that show proof of concept and lead to Phase II manufacturing scale-up and testing in relevant environments for applications related to human-scale Mars entry, Earth return, or launch vehicle asset recovery.

Expected TRL or TRL Range at completion of the Project: 1 to 4

Primary Technology Taxonomy:

  • Level 1 09 Entry, Descent, and Landing
  • Level 2 09.1 Aeroassist and Atmospheric Entry

Desired Deliverables of Phase I and Phase II:

  • Research
  • Analysis
  • Prototype
  • Hardware
  • Software

Desired Deliverables Description:

Reports documenting analysis and development results, including description of any hardware or prototypes developed. The focus of Phase I development can be subscale manufacturing demonstrations that show proof of concept and lead to Phase II manufacturing scale-up and testing in relevant environments for applications related to human-scale Mars entry, Earth return, or launch vehicle asset recovery. 

State of the Art and Critical Gaps:

The current state of the art for gas generators is limited due to the novelty of this technology. Development of gas generator technologies that improve gas chemistries and materials, improve mass and structure efficiency, reduce system complexity, improve filtering and thermal performance, and lower costs over current pressurized cold gas systems for inflatable structures is needed.

Relevance / Science Traceability:

NASA needs advanced deployable aerodynamic decelerators to enhance and enable robotic and human space missions. Applications include Mars, Venus, and Titan as well as payload return to Earth from LEO. Commercial companies also have a growing interest in advanced deployable aerodynamic decelerators for use in launch vehicle asset recovery.  ESDMD (Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate), SOMD (Space Operations Mission Directorate), STMD (Space Technology Mission Directorate), SMD (Science Mission Directorate), and commercial companies can benefit from this technology for various applications.

References:

  • Hughes, S.J., et al., “Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) Technology Development Overview,” AIAA Paper 2011-2524.
  • Bose, D.M, et al., “The Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) Mission Applications Study,” AIAA Paper 2013-1389.
  • Hollis, B.R., “Boundary-Layer Transition and Surface Heating Measurements on a Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator with Simulated Flexible TPS,” AIAA Paper 2017-3122.
  • Olds, A.D., et al., “IRVE-3 Post-Flight Reconstruction,” AIAA Paper 2013-1390.
  • Del Corso, J.A., et al., “Advanced High-Temperature Flexible TPS for Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators,” AIAA Paper 2011-2510.

Scope Title:

In Situ Thermal Conductivity Measurements in Formed 3D-Woven Thermal Protection System (TPS) Heat Shields

Scope Description:

NASA is developing single-piece TPSs manufactured from a flat 3D-woven material that is formed/molded to the final heat shield geometry and infused with resin to rigidize to the needed shape. The current forming process results in substantial movement of the yarns in the woven preform, which can result in wrinkles and other deformations that may impact properties and lead to differences in thermal conductivity compared to conductivities measured on flat 3D-woven panels. NASA is interested in methods to measure in situ thermal conductivity, initially through the thickness, with the stretch goal of also adding in-plane thermal conductivity, on complex 3D shapes such as 45° sphere-cone heat shield geometries. The ability to make absolute value measurements is desired; however, systems that enable comparison of relative thermal conductivities (changes on the order of 10%) are also of interest. The intent of these measurements is to identify hot spots on the heat shield where the thermal conductivity is significantly higher than other regions – allowing rejection of the heat shield prior to bonding to structure. The ability to account for edge effects at the perimeter of the heat shield is crucial to a successful technology. Materials with thermal conductivities in the range of 0.1 to 0.3 W/mK at room temperature are being evaluated with material thicknesses of ~1 to 1.5 inches. The maximum temperature the materials can be exposed to is ~50 °C. The focus of Phase I development can be a design with some modeling to demonstrate how such a measurement would be made and the rationale, based on experience with the materials or the technology. That would lead into Phase II, where the design is developed and demonstrated on relevant material with the technology being made ready for adoption by NASA missions.

Expected TRL or TRL Range at completion of the Project: 1 to 4

Primary Technology Taxonomy:

  • Level 1 09 Entry, Descent, and Landing
  • Level 2 09.1 Aeroassist and Atmospheric Entry

Desired Deliverables of Phase I and Phase II:

  • Research
  • Analysis
  • Prototype
  • Hardware
  • Software

Desired Deliverables Description:

Reports documenting analysis and development results, including description of any hardware or prototypes that are designed and developed. The focus of Phase I development can be a design with some modeling to demonstrate how such a measurement would be made and the rationale, based on experience with the materials or the technology. That would lead into Phase II, where the design is developed and demonstrated on relevant material with the technology being made ready for adoption by NASA missions.

State of the Art and Critical Gaps:

The current state of the art for in situ measurements of 3D-woven materials is limited due to the novelty of this technology. In situ thermal conductivity measurements can be made on more standard materials and are common practice. The adaptation or extension of these existing techniques to 3D-woven materials must be explored to determine whether or not a completely new technique must be developed. NASA is interested in developing this capability for use on future missions.

Relevance / Science Traceability:

NASA needs advanced in situ measurement techniques to enhance and enable robotic and human space missions. Applications include Mars, Venus, and Titan as well as payload return to Earth from low Earth orbit. ESDMD (Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate), SOMD (Space Operations Mission Directorate), STMD (Space Technology Mission Directorate), and SMD (Science Mission Directorate) can benefit from this technology for various exploration missions.

References:

  • Ellerby, D., et al., “Heatshield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology (HEEET) Thermal Protection System (TPS),” Materials Science and Technology (MS&T) 2019, September 29-October 3, 2019, Portland, Oregon.

Scope Title:

Material Selection and Development to Enable Lower Cost Deployable Solutions From Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and at Mars

Scope Description:

Advancements are desired in textile manufacturing technologies that can be used to simplify production (e.g., weave architectures, weave-ability, joining techniques), reduce cost (e.g., lower cost fibers and materials for less severe environments), reduce the mass (e.g., flexible gas barriers, improved insulations), or reduce the stowed volume of mechanically deployed structures, inflatable structures, or their flexible TPS. NASA's Adaptable, Deployable Entry Placement Technology (ADEPT) concept and subsequent drag-modulated aerocapture (DMA) concepts were developed primarily for harsh aero environments at Venus. In contrast, current commercial and scientific interests are evaluating deployables at more reasonable scales (i.e., less than 3 m deployed diameter) for applications from LEO and at Mars, where the environments are not as severe and the desired advancements could offer significant improvements. Proposals need not be restricted to fabric-based ADEPT/DMA deployable concepts; approaches that allow for rigid plates that collapse for packaging should also be considered. Likewise, advancements in HIAD thermal protection concepts can lead to better improvements in thermal management efficiency of radiant and conductive heat transport at elevated temperatures (exceeding 1,200 °C). These concepts can be either passive- or active-dissipation approaches. For smaller scale inflatable systems, less than 1.5 m in diameter, thin-ply or thin-film manufacturing approaches are of particular interest for reducing the minimum design gauge. Materials that can serve as good insulators while also providing good structural integrity are of interest as well. The focus of Phase I development can be material coupons and/or subscale manufacturing demonstrations that show proof of concept and lead to Phase II manufacturing scale-up and testing in relevant environments for applications related to Mars and other planetary entry, Earth return, launch asset recovery, or the emergent small satellite entry community.

Expected TRL or TRL Range at completion of the Project: 1 to 4

Primary Technology Taxonomy:

  • Level 1 09 Entry, Descent, and Landing
  • Level 2 09.1 Aeroassist and Atmospheric Entry

Desired Deliverables of Phase I and Phase II:

  • Research
  • Analysis
  • Prototype
  • Hardware
  • Software

Desired Deliverables Description:

Reports documenting analysis and development results, including description of any materials, hardware, or prototypes developed. The focus of Phase I development can be material coupons and/or subscale manufacturing demonstrations that show proof of concept and lead to Phase II manufacturing scale-up and testing in relevant environments for applications related to Mars and other planetary entry, Earth return, launch asset recovery, or the emergent small satellite entry community.

State of the Art and Critical Gaps:

ADEPT and subsequent DMA concepts have been developed primarily to facilitate probes and landers at Venus (e.g., ADEPT) and small spacecraft as secondary payloads of opportunity (e.g., DMA) through aerocapture at Venus. The selection of carbon fabric and the 3D weaving were necessary to meet the entry environments at Venus. For entries from LEO and at Mars, the environments are not as severe as Venus, and many commercial and scientific interests are evaluating LEO and Mars deployables at reasonable scales (i.e., less than 3 m deployed diameter). Likewise, there is still room for advancement in HIAD thermal protection concepts, which can lead to better improvements in thermal management efficiency of radiant and conductive heat transport at elevated temperatures (exceeding 1,200 °C). Therefore, selection of appropriate lower cost fibers, weave architectures, weave-ability, and joining techniques that can decrease cost, enable rapid manufacturing, and provide options that are compatible with these entry environments can lead to lower cost deployable approaches.

Relevance / Science Traceability:

NASA needs advanced deployable aerodynamic decelerators to enhance and enable robotic and human space missions. Applications include Mars, Venus, and Titan as well as payload return to Earth from LEO. ESDMD (Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate), SOMD (Space Operations Mission Directorate), STMD (Space Technology Mission Directorate), and SMD (Science Mission Directorate) can benefit from this technology for various exploration missions.

References:

  • Hughes, S.J., et al., “Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) Technology Development Overview,” AIAA Paper 2011-2524.
  • Bose, D.M, et al., “The Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) Mission Applications Study,” AIAA Paper 2013-1389.
  • Hollis, B.R., “Boundary-Layer Transition and Surface Heating Measurements on a Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator with Simulated Flexible TPS,” AIAA Paper 2017-3122.
  • Olds, A.D., et al., “IRVE-3 Post-Flight Reconstruction,” AIAA Paper 2013-1390.
  • Del Corso, J.A., et al., “Advanced High-Temperature Flexible TPS for Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators,” AIAA Paper 2011-2510.
  • Cassell, A., et al., “ADEPT, A Mechanically Deployable Re-Entry Vehicle System, Enabling Interplanetary CubeSat and Small Satellite Missions,” SSC18-XII-08, 32nd Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites.
  • Cassell, A., et al., “ADEPT Sounding Rocket One Flight Test Overview,” AIAA Paper 2019-2896.
  • Ellerby, D., et al., “Heatshield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology (HEEET) Thermal Protection System (TPS),” Materials Science and Technology (MS&T) 2019, September 29-October 3, 2019, Portland, Oregon.
  • Austin, A. et al., “SmallSat Aerocapture: Breaking the Rocket Equation to Enable a New Class of Planetary Missions,” 70th International Astronautical Congress, 21-25 October 2019.
  • Austin, A. et al., "SmallSat Aerocapture to Enable a New Paradigm of Planetary Missions," 2019 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, 2019, pp. 1-20.
  • Strauss, B. et al., “Aerocapture Trajectories for Earth Orbit Technology Demonstration and Orbiter Science Missions at Venus, Mars, and Neptune,” 31st AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, 2021.

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