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De-risk assessment: Exploitation of ESA Flight Data

Programme Reference
Prime Contractor
Start Date
End Date
United Kingdom
De-risk assessment: Exploitation of ESA Flight Data

Objective(s): To produce a balanced margins policy (incorporating the lessons learnt from previous flight experience) which can be incorporated into the MEDLE vehicle road map and future development.

To produce a road map for the MEDLE vehicle, incorporating lessons learnt from previous flights.


Background and justification: The most effective de-risking strategy for Entry Descent and landing (EDL)technologies is to foster practical flight heritage and experience. To this end, a Modular EDL Experiment (MEDLE) vehicle with common launch interface, data collection, and, as far as practical, recovery modules would be a significant step towards enhancing European capability. This project is aimed at consolidating lessons learnt from previous flights and incorporating it into the MEDLE vehicle roadmap.

Achievements and status: The aerodynamic, aerothermal and parachute flight data from the ExoMars Schiaparelli Entry and the SuperMax parachute demonstrator have been analysed and close agreement to the available data has been achieved. The lessons learnt have been consolidated and an improved aerothermal margins policy has been generated and applied to the Schiaparelli flight. If this margins policy was utilised in the design phases, a 30% mass reduction in the thermal protection can be achieved. A roadmap for the MEDLE vehicle has been developed to target key EDL technologies such as flexible thermal protection systems and inflatable decelerators. This will allow a cost-effective way to develop European capability in these areas.

Benefits: Improving the aerothermal margins policy has a significant impact on the thermal protection requirements for entry vehicles. It can lead to cost savings as well as be mission enabling for future flight missions.

Application Domain
Generic Technologies
Technology Domain
1 - On-board Data Subsystems
Competence Domain
7-Propulsion, Space Transportation and Re-entry Vehicles
Initial TRL
Target TRL
Public Document
Executive Summary