Conceptualization of design modifications in re-entry vehicles - vectoring for redirection of plasma

Chrishma Singh Derewa, Srikanth Raviprasad

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory continues to push the boundaries of entry descent and landing with heavier exploratory systems. Our heatshields must dissipate more the 90% of the spacecraft's kinetic energy and keep the aeroshell interior safe from these extreme temperature gradients. Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) taught JPL many things about this high speed descent as it hurdled to the surface of Mars at nearly a ton. The MSL aeroshell was a 4.5 m diameter spherically-blunted 70-degree half-angle cone made of an ablative material called Phenolic Impregnated Carbon (PICA). The data gathered indicated the urgent need for an optimized entry design increasing the marginal probability of safety. The Re-Entry dynamics is invariably dominated by the drag coefficient, frontal Area, angle of attack, density of atmosphere, ballistic coefficient and many other less significant parameters. The most popular design produced for the same is the 70° blunted cone design with angle of attack of about 12° to 13° to obtain the optimum value of CdA so as to increase drag and frontal area. The STARSHIELD concept adopted in this technology demonstration will redirect and vector the surrounding plasma by using nozzles built into the shield to allow propulsion free adjustments to trajectory, thereby reducing the velocity during Re-Entry. To obtain the same, supersonic and hypersonic diffiisers are strategically mounted along the aeroshell of the vehicle. The general function of diffusers for hypersonic speeds as applied to the STARSHIELD design is presented in the context of modifications to the classic methodology of Doctrine of Successive Refinement (DSR) for its' development. This concept is universal in the sense it can be employed for non - Axis symmetric vehicles as well. A vectorable aeroshell will help compensate for wind shear, provide course directional capabilities and reduce shockwaves across turbulent boundary layers associated with TPS degradation in flight. These capabilities will revolutionize the entry, decent and landing on Mars enabling ever larger payloads to its surface.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication65th International Astronautical Congress 2014, IAC 2014
Subtitle of host publicationOur World Needs Space
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781634399869
Publication statusPublished - 01-01-2014
Externally publishedYes
Event65th International Astronautical Congress 2014: Our World Needs Space, IAC 2014 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 29-09-201403-10-2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
ISSN (Print)0074-1795


Conference65th International Astronautical Congress 2014: Our World Needs Space, IAC 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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