Rigidized Deployable Lifting Brake for Atmospheric Entry

Period of Performance: 01/01/2007 - 12/31/2007


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Andrews Space, Inc.
3415 South 116th Street, Suite 123
Tukwila, WA 98168
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Aerobraking to reduce velocity for planetary capture and landing has long been assumed for use on Mars missions because Mars has an atmosphere, and the use of aerobraking minimizes the amount of propellants required from the Earth's surface. For Mars exploration missions, where large quantities of equipment will be required, an aerobrake that is adequate for the size and amount of equipment will need to be quite large. Unfortunately, carrying a large aerobrake to orbit requires either an unreasonably large shroud or an expensive on-orbit assembly process. Flexible aerobrakes have promise, but pressure-supported ribs with tension-supported areal TPS have potential flagging instabilities. Andrews Space, Inc. proposes an innovative aerobrake design that is deployable and rigidizable, meeting initial launch volume constraints and satisfying terminal aerobraking requirements. The design will include rigidizing foams as a key feature, adding a few percent to weight but greatly enhancing the capability to aerobrake oversized exploration elements. Andrews proposes to initially explore in Phase I a range of design options, using its integrated conceptual design tools and systems engineering processes to establish a preferred approach. That approach can be further developed and tested in Phases II and III to mature the associated technologies and design.