Technologies Opportunities Demonstrators Research










Related research and innovation activities

To complete the definition of the potential demonstrator projects, advantages will be taken from the following research and innovation activities. For each example, the name of the IRENA partner involved in the activity is mentioned:

- Heritage from flown demonstrators / missions

o SHEFEX (SHarp Edge Flight Experiment) – Demonstration of enabling technologies for controlled re-entry vehicles. Special focus on cooling technologies for extremely thermally loaded structures (3-5 MW/m²) – DLR


Figure 1-10: SHEFEX payload (credit: DLR)

o ESA ARD : Atmospheric Re-entry Demonstrator - Qualification of technologies and flight control capabilities – AST


Figure 1-11: ARD capsule after recovery (credit: AstriumS)

- Current Studies/Missions

o ESA ExoMars EDM - The ExoMars Entry Descent and landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) constitutes a technology platform whose main goal is to enable Europe to acquire the capability to land on Mars. Although designed to demonstrate entry, descent and landing technologies, the EDM also offers limited, but useful, science capabilities. The Orbiter and EDM are scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2016. – TAS Italia, AST


Figure 1-12: The ExoMars 2016 mission TGO + EDM (credit: ESA)

o IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) – flight demonstrator to be launch in October 2014 – lifting system returning from low Earth orbit and performing the inflight verification

of re-entry and reusable technologies, and its evolution: ISV PRIDE (Innovative Space Vehicle – Program for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator in Europe) – TAS Italia

o EXPERT (European Experimental Re-entry test-bed) – Validation of aerothermodynamic model, numeric codes and ground test facilities by data) – DLR, TAS Italia


Figure 1-13: EXPERT vehicle (credit: DLR)

o ESA MREP (Mars Robotic Exploration Programme) studies (Phootprint and Inspire Phases A). Phootprint consists in returning samples from the martian moon Phobos. Inspire (Mars network of landers) objectives are twofold: to perform simultaneous measurements from multiple locations (e.g. seismology, geodesy and meteorology) and to provide a robust demonstration of European capabilities in key technologies critical for future Mars surface exploration missions. Both missions pave the way to the long term objective of Mars Sample Return – TAS Italia, AST

o ISV PRIDE (IXV evolution). The PRIDE-ISV mission aims at demonstrating the capability to execute a re-entry flight with a winged body from LEO, after a number of prescribed revolutions and to safely land on conventional runway with landing gears – TAS Italia

o Some initiatives are in progress at technology / research level in Italy in the frame of PRO.R.A. (ASI/CIRA program) activities as well as in the STEPS project co-financed by the Piedmont Region, led by TAS Italia, that would need additional exploitation to reach the targeted TRL. In particular, in the STEPS project, two themes related to atmosphere entry / re-entry technologies are under development: ablative materials characterization for low-medium heat flux and a multi-physics integrated tool (fluid flow-ablation interaction) for heat-shield design and performance analysis. Tests campaign in plasma wind tunnel and rebuilding analysis are planned to be performed. Test results would be an on-ground qualification / validation / verification both for material and tool

- Past studies

o FP7 Rastas Spear (Radiation-Shapes-Thermal protection investigAtionS for high SPEed EArth Re-entry) Understanding of high speed entry phenomena and identification of ground facility needs for simulation. Mastering of heat shield manufacturing techniques and damping at ground impact. Demonstration of heat shield capabilities – AST, DEM


Figure 1-14: FP7 Rastas Spear full-scale model (credit: Astrium)

o FP7 AeroFAST (AEROcapture for Future space transportation) – Study of a possible aerocapture demonstrator on mars. TRL increase of the planetary relative navigation and the aerocapture algorithm. Demonstrate/prototype the thermal protection system for such a mission – AST


Figure 1-15: AEROFAST vehicle and aerocapture trajectory illustration (credit: Astrium)

o ESA AURORA EVD (Earth Vehicle Demonstrator) - Demonstration of the technologies and system capabilities required for ballistic hypervelocity entry on Earth and capability to return a sample container compatible with the planetary protection requirement enforced for MSR) – AST

- AST R&T Planetary Exploration focused on:

o GNC: High Precision Landing on Mars, real time implementation of vision based navigation for martian or lunar landing, lunar lander GNC demonstrator test bench (test of critical navigation and hazard, detection and avoidance algorithm necessary for Descent and landing on flight representative breadboard), mission analysis optimization tool

o Passive atmospheric ERC: platform by which most of key technologies, design elements, and processes can be developed and tested.


o The Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation (MEDLI) project, which gathered aerodynamic and aerothermodynamic data from the MSL heatshield during Mars entry and descent


Figure 1-16: MELDI platform (credit: NASA)

o Hypersonics-EDL Project (HEDL) makes foundational investments in aerosciences codes and thermal protection system materials modelling


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