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Inflatable Aerocapture Decelerators with Shape Morphing Trajectory Control

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNM05AA14C
Agency Tracking Number: 033482
Amount: $599,771.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: S1.02
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2003
Award Year: 2005
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2004-11-22
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2006-11-22
Small Business Information
20590 Cereal Street
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530-9600
United States
DUNS: 184758894
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Glen Brown
 Principal Investigator
 (831) 425-5147
Business Contact
 James McCusker
Title: Proposal Manager
Phone: (909) 674-0604
Research Institution

The proposed research is focused on developing an aerocapture decelerator
that is substantially lighter than other approaches by using lightweight,
fiber-reinforced films in its construction and by being a smaller size
(higher ballistic coefficient) than previously studied ballutes that operate without thermal protection. A second objective is to develop an innovative method of control for deployable aerocapture decelerators employing shape-morphing lift modulation. Aerocapture is strongly enhancing for planetary exploration because the decelerator mass is less than the fuel mass needed for the same delta-V, and therefore results in a higher payload fraction in orbit. Inflatable drag devices are a promising type of aerocapture decelerator because (1) they are lighter than conventional fixed-geometry aeroshells, and (2) they can be much larger than the interior of a launch fairing and thus enable heavier spacecraft. This aerocapture technology also applies to supersonic decelerators for Entry, Descent and Landing Systems (EDLS) and to other systems requiring supersonic deceleration and stabilization. Trajectory control by shape-morphing lift modulation also enhances EDLS as part of precision guided landing capability. The anticipated Phase II results include the design,
manufacture and testing of a full-scale, flight-weight inflatable torus,
advancing the key inflatable technology for aerocapture decelerators to TRL

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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