An Evaluation of Ballute Entry Systems for Lunar Return Missions
Clark, Ian G.
Braun, Robert D.
Wells, Grant William
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This study investigates the advantages and feasibility of using ballutes for Earth entry at lunar return velocities. Using analysis methods suitable for conceptual design and assuming a CEV type entry vehicle, multiple entry strategies were investigated. Entries that jettison the ballute after achieving low Earth orbit conditions were shown to reduce heating rates to within reusable thermal protection system limits. Deceleration was mitigated to approximately four g's when a moderate amount of lift was applied subsequent to ballute jettison. Primary ballute size drivers are the thermal limitations and areal densities of the ballute material. Performance requirements for both of those metrics were generated over a range of total ballute system masses. Lastly, preliminary investigation of a lower mass cargo variant of the CEV allowed for additional reduction of ballute system mass. However, ballute system mass as a percentage of the total entry mass was shown to be relatively independent of the entry mass.