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The need and the opportunities for European entry/re-entry technologies (CNES)

The proposed activity is very much in sync with the overall ISEF approach as elaborated at the January 9, 2014 meeting in Washington, DC, USA. Indeed, in that meeting, the key role of technological developments for space exploration was emphasized. The ISEF participants also underlined the major role to be played by ISECG, the International Space Exploration Coordination Group, a forum composed of 14 space agencies. ISECG published in August 2013 its second version of the Global Exploration Roadmap (GER). The proposed activity will dwell on the findings of that roadmap, and notably on the perspectives for robotic and human exploration.

The work proposed will be based on the Mission Scenario of the ISECG GER, which is as follows:

Figure 1-1: ISECG Mission Scenario

More concretely, the proposed work will address one key element of the GER, which is part of the human exploration preparatory activities: the entry and descent systems. The following is an excerpt from the GER:

‘Entry and Descent Systems Visiting vehicles re-enter Earth’s atmosphere following missions to the ISS. There are also several methods to deploy small satellites from the ISS which will re-enter the atmosphere. These opportunities can be used to demonstrate capabilities and increase knowledge of atmosphere entry environments. Several demonstrations have recorded data characterizing the environment in a vehicle breaking up in the atmosphere, providing insight into defining this environment. Ablative material that is being considered for future spacecraft is also being used on uncrewed vehicles returning from the ISS without risking a crew in the demonstration.’

Among this overall frame, the main currently foreseen post Exomars European missions for which technology demonstrator projects for atmosphere entry, return/re-entry vehicles may bring an

essential contribution are the following. All these missions are of course placed in the long term objective of Mars Sample Return (MSR) Mission, for which the international iMars Working Group is ongoing its activities, joined recently by Roskosmos as a new partner, to present in March 2015 an updated international MSR architecture with options for international sharing of responsibilities.

The Luna-28 i.e. Luna Polar Sample Return is an opportunity of cooperation on a Russian mission to be flown after 2020 towards the Moon South pole. It aims at bringing back on the Earth an Earth Return Capsule (ERC) filled with samples acquired by a soil sampling device including drill abilities (SSD). ESA is trying to convince its Members States to set up a program for this mission.

The PHOOTPRINT mission around 2025 will be devoted to the acquisition and return on the Earth of samples from the Phobos Mars moon. It is currently studied by ESA in its Mars Robotic Exploration Preparation program (MREP). Discussions are regularly maintained with on one side NASA and on the other side IKI/Roskosmos to define opportunities of cooperation on this mission. European participations might cover Earth entry capsules and sample receiving facilities.

      

Figure 1-2: Illustration of the Phootprint (left) and Inspire (right) missions (credit: ESA)

Also as an alternative to the PHOOTPRINT mission in the ESA Mars Robotic Exploration Preparation program (MREP), the INSPIRE mission has for objective to deliver a network of three probes on the Mars surface to provide simultaneous seismic measurements.

                                                                                                                                 

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