A Survey of Ballute Technology for Aerocapture
Rohrschneider, Reuben R.
Braun, Robert D.
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Ballute aerodynamic decelerators have been studied since early in the space age (1960’s), being proposed for aerocapture in the early 1980’s. Significant technology advances in fabric and polymer materials as well as analysis capabilities lend credibility to the potential of ballute aerocapture. The concept of the thin-film ballute for aerocapture shows the potential for large mass savings over propulsive orbit insertion or rigid aeroshell aerocapture. The mass savings of this concept enables a number of high value science missions. Current studies of ballute aerocapture at Titan and Earth may lead to flight test of one or more ballute concepts within the next five years. This paper provides a survey of the literature with application to ballute aerocapture. Special attention is paid to advances in trajectory analysis, hypersonic aerothermodynamics, structural analysis, coupled analysis, and flight tests. Advances anticipated over the next 5 years are summarized.