Thermal Design of a Multi Mission Micro-Entry Capsule
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There is increasing interest from space agencies and organisations of all levels at undertaking interplanetary exploration using micro- and nano-spacecraft. The mission ideas are as varied as the spacecraft designs themselves. They range from technology demonstration for large exploration missions to more ambitious missions including planetary entry and even sample return missions. To reduce reliance on bespoke designs with their inherent development risk, we present the Multi Mission Micro Entry Capsule which aims to provide a highly modular platform for interplanetary missions. This concept utilizes common microsatellite subsystem elements which can be selected to support missions that require a significant amount of atmospheric transit time, such as entry, re-entry, aero-braking or atmospheric sampling. This would enable mission planners to focus on the payload and mission design aspects, rather than development of the entire system each time such a mission is conceived, thereby fast tracking implementation. The TCS can place significant demands on the spacecraft system due to the nature of solar system exploration, with wide ranges in sun distances, aerodynamic interactions with planetary atmosphere and the possibility of extended operation in cold environments. Therefore, certain design features will of necessity be quite different from one mission to the next. While the communications, power and propulsion needs will clearly differ between the missions, this paper will show how the thermal design especially drives the ability with which such a modular concept can be devised. In particular, we examine how the heat shield to payload mass fraction is the main parameter which must be traded off between capsule designs for a wide range of mission destinations. The paper examines the design considerations for Venus, Earth, Moon, Mars and Phobos missions and demonstrates that within the constraints of a fixed payload plus heat shield mass allocation, a highly modular concept can be produced.