The Atmospheric Entry Decelerator Technologies Discipline is focused on two technology product areas: inflatable aerodynamic decelerators (IADs) and supersonic retro-propulsion (SRP).
Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator technologies (both supersonic and hypersonic) are being advanced through a coordinated effort consisting of computational tools development and application and to ground-based experiments and flight testing, where the goal is to determine both the static and dynamic aerodynamics for multiple IAD configurations. The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-II) is one flight test of a hypersonic IAD concept (pictured here). For supersonic IADs, three structural concepts are being investigated:
- A tension cone, where a fabric is draped between the payload and an internally-pressurized torus.
- An isotensoid shape, where ram air pressure inflates a large drag volume.
- A stacked torus configuration (like IRVE) that defines the geometry of the drag device via a series of internally-inflated volumes.
The second decelerator technology under investigation is the use of rocket propulsion for decelerating an entry vehicle through the supersonic speed regime. At this time, the plan contains both experimental and computational elements to provide gross characterization of the vehicle aerodynamics throughout the speed regime; effectiveness of a given nozzle configuration with respect to deceleration; understanding of optimal location, size, and number of nozzles; and global and local flow field effects (both steady and unsteady) in and about the nozzles during operation.