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Dandelion Re-entry Vehicle

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For re-entry from orbit, a critical factor is dissipating orbital kinetic energy into the atmosphere to slow the spacecraft down. The most popular way of doing this is to have a roughly-conical reentry vehicle with ablative heat shields on the scorchy side. Made of expensive, fragile materials that burn up, these release a somewhat protective ionised gas boundary layer that radiates away the heat/energy. The rate of heating and the total heat are critical to re- entry and together dictate the re-entry strategy/design. A steep entry reduces the total heat, but increases the peak heating. A shallow entry, the reverse.

The area of the re-entry body is critical to the rate of heating, and the heat per unit area of airframe. But wind- facing area is generally dictated by the launch architecture.

So, this idea is to have a re-entry body that has a large effective area of a “springy” perhaps carbon composite semi-ablative canopy - the springiness allows the fronds to be folded compactly within the launch vehicle. Once unfurled, they deliver drag and dissipate heat, but over a much larger area.

Frankx, Oct 16 2019

Inflatable instead of springy https://www.google....gB&biw=1920&bih=979
Sort-of like this? [neutrinos_shadow, Oct 16 2019]

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       Sounds a lot like the aerobraking volute demonstrated by the "Leonov" in the movie 2010.
8th of 7, Oct 16 2019


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