NASA To Test Parachute-Like Device For Returning Spacecraft To Earth

Posted: Nov 25 2017, 2:52pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 25 2017, 2:57pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA to Test Parachute-Like Device for Returning Spacecraft to Earth
Credit: NASA

The advanced device will demonstrate guided controlled re-entry of small spacecraft from deep space missions

On Nov.12, NASA launched a satellite to the International Space Station from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. After a brief stay aboard ISS, the TechEdSat-6 satellite has been released into the low-Earth orbit to demonstrate a critical technology that may allow safe return of spacecrafts from deep space missions.

TechEdSat-6 is carrying an updated version of the Exo-Brake – a parachute like device deployed from the rear of an object to increase the drag. It is regarded as a specially designed device that operates at extremely low pressures. The device will provide controlled re-entry of small spacecraft to Earth from space and a landing on a desired target without the use of fuel.

“The Exo-Brake’s shape can be changed to vary the drag on the satellite. With the help of high-fidelity simulations, we will demonstrate a low-cost, propellant-less method of returning small payloads quickly, and to fairly precise locations, for retrieval,” said Michelle Munk, NASA’s System Capability Lead for Entry, Descent and Landing. “We are excited about tracking TechEdSat-6 as it re-enters the atmosphere.”

This is the fourth in a continuing series of tests, with each one deals with a different or improved version of Exo-Brake. If successful, the device could replace the more complicated rockets that are normally used during the re-entry phase.

The Exo-Brake was initially tested on balloons and sub-orbital rockets. In November 2013, NASA launched the first Exo-Brake ‘parachute flight test from the ISS. This simple device could one day help bring small payloads from Mars surface and other places in the solar system unharmed.

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