NASA Will Test Parachute-Like Device To Return Payloads From Space

Posted: Mar 8 2017, 8:55am CST | by , Updated: Mar 8 2017, 9:03am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

NASA will Test Parachute-Like Device to Return Payloads from Space
Credit: NASA
 

The technology could enable rapid, accurate and safe return of small spacecrafts from space to Earth

A novel technology that could allow easy and safe return of payloads to Earth from space will soon be tested in low-Earth orbit.

The technology, called “Exo-Brake”, is a flexible, parachute-like device, deployed from the rear of small satellites for increasing the drag. The current Exo-brake design uses mechanical struts and flexible cord to control the landing, similar to the wing-wrapping system used by Wright Brothers in their first glider design. This is a system for lateral control which will enable engineers to guide the payload to a desired target without wasting fuel and ensure more accurate landing from deep space mission in coming years. 

The device could potentially replace complicated rockets and cargo ships that are normally be assigned to deliver supplies to space station and to re-enter Earth's atmosphere carrying scientific payloads. 

NASA’s Technology Educational Satellite (TechEdSat-5), which was deployed on International Space Station’s external platform on March 6, 2017, will demonstrate this critical technology after reaching a designated orbit. The satellite was launched on December 9 on a spacecraft from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center and is staying aboard ISS for the past two months. 

Exo-Brake has been tested on balloons and suborbital rockets since 2012. In 2015, TechEdSat-4 satellite was jettisoned from space station’s NanoRacks platform and successfully demonstrated use of this drag device, allowing the satellite to more precisely return to the Earth.

“The exo-brake is a self-stabilizing exospheric deorbiting mechanism that will allow us to return a payload to Earth fairly rapidly from an orbital platform, like the International Space Station. We were able to send commands and receive data to and from the satellite via the onboard modem using only a laptop and email account. This capability may greatly benefit the entire nanosatellite community.” Marcus Murbach, the TechEdSat-4 principal investigator said in an earlier statement.

Satellite TechEdSat-5 will also test two additional technologies in its latest trip to space: Cricket' Wireless Sensor Module (WSM) and PhoneSat-5. Cricket Wireless Sensor Module provides real-time data for TechEdSat-5 using its unique wireless network, while PhoneSat-5 is an ongoing project of building smartphones, high fidelity cameras and other related products. These technologies will also be tested in low Earth orbit.

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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