Deployable Self-Regulating Centrifugally-Stiffened Decelerator (DESCENT): Design Scalability and Low Altitude Drop Test

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A previous study by the authors has proposed a foldable heat shield that deploys by harnessing the re-entry kinetic energy, namely DEployable, Self-regulating, CENTrifugally-stiffened decelerator (DESCENT). The design benefits from being self-regulating and lightweight, having low requirement on thermal protection, and allowing downrange manoeuvre based on conventional attitude control devices. The present study demonstrates that the system mass can be scaled across 6 orders of magnitude using a set of relatively simple design rules, showing the potential to realise miniaturised entry probes that are simple and robust, with a possible mass-reduction of > 25% to an 8 m diameter inflatable heat shield. A scaled-down test model with a stitched fabric aeroshell and on-board sensors is drop-tested at low altitude, showing satisfactory agreement with simulation, and no sign of instabilities, paving the way for future higher fidelity tests. The similarity between the low speed drop-test result and Newtonian hypersonic simulation suggests that the critical behaviour of DESCENT is dominated by its geometrical characteristics.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number106710
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021