Title of Presentation: Summary of Ultralightweight Ballute Technology Advances

Primary (Corresponding) Author: James Masciarelli

Organization of Primary Author: Ball Aerospace Corporation


Abstract:  Ultralightweight ballutes offer the potential to provide the deceleration for entry and aerocapture missions at a fraction of the mass of traditional methods. From April 2003 through December 2006, a team consisting of Ball Aerospace, ILC Dover, NASA Langley, NASA JSC, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been addressing the technical issues associated with ultralightweight ballutes for aerocapture missions under funding provided by the In-Space Propulsion Office at NASA MSFC. Significant technology advances have been made in the areas of ballute materials, aerothermal analysis, trajectory control, aeroelastic modeling, hypersonic test, and overall ballute system design processes. The results show that ultralightweight ballutes provide excellent performance and packaging benefits not only for aerocapture, but also for de-orbit, entry, descent, and landing missions to planetary bodies with a sensible atmosphere. Additional ground testing followed by flight demonstration represents a critical validation step before this technology is used in operational mission applications.