NASA Funds Research into Using the Solar Oberth Maneuver to Explore Deep Space

Graphic depiction of Combined Heat Shield and Solar Thermal Propulsion System for an Oberth Maneuver. (Credits: Jason Benkoski)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is funding research into advanced technology that would allow spacecraft to combine its propulsion system and the sun’s gravity to reach the distant Kuiper Belt or interstellar space in far less time than is possible today.

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Exploring the Solar System? You May Need to Pack an Umbrella

Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology (ADEPT) aeroshell. (Credits: NASA Ames Research Center/ Eric James)

by Kimberly Minafra and Gianine Figliozzi
​NASA Ames Research Center

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Gearing up for its first flight test, NASA’s Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology, or ADEPT, is no ordinary umbrella. ADEPT is a foldable device that opens to make a round, rigid heat shield, called an aeroshell. This game-changing technology could squeeze a heat shield into a rocket with a diameter larger than the rocket itself. The design may someday deliver much larger payloads to planetary surfaces than is currently possible.

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HIAD Heat Shield Material Feels the Burn During Arc Jet Testing

Small cutouts of the Flexible Thermal Protection System for NASA’s Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or HIAD, were exposed to temperatures up to approximately 2,700 F during testing at Boeing’s Large Core Arc Tunnel in St. Louis, Missouri. (Credit: Boeing)

ST. LOUIS (NASA PR) — NASA heat shield material that could one day be used on an inflatable aeroshell during atmospheric entry on Mars recently underwent testing at Boeing’s Large Core Arc Tunnel in St. Louis, Missouri.

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NASA Successfully Tests Hypersonic Inflatable Heat Shield

Credit: NASA

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — A large inflatable heat shield developed by NASA’s Space Technology Program has successfully survived a trip through Earth’s atmosphere while travelling at hypersonic speeds up to 7,600 mph.

The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was launched by sounding rocket at 7:01 a.m. Monday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. The purpose of the IRVE-3 test was to show that a space capsule can use an inflatable outer shell to slow and protect itself as it enters an atmosphere at hypersonic speed during planetary entry and descent, or as it returns to Earth with cargo from the International Space Station.

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NASA to Test Inflatable Heat Shield

NASA PR — The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) is the third in a series of suborbital flight tests of this new technology. It is scheduled to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore this summer.

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