Drag modulation flight control for aerocapture

Zachary R. Putnam, Ian G. Clark, Robert D. Braun

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Hypersonic deployable aerodynamic devices, both rigid and inflatable, have the potential to enable a broad spectrum of next-generation aeroassist missions by mitigating shape and size constraints on aeroassist vehicles and providing an in-flight reconfiguration capability. Such a capability provides new options for flight control during atmospheric flight, such as drag modulation. Drag modulation is an attractive flight control option for future aerocapture missions because it requires only minimal additional system complexity for vehicles with deployable aerodynamic devices, in contrast to more conventional lift-modulation steering methods. This study expands upon previous aerocapture drag modulation studies by extending the analysis of single-event jettison systems to Earth and Mars. A single-event jettison guidance algorithm was developed and used to evaluate the feasibility of real-time targeting of apoapsis altitude during flight. Results indicate that sufficiently large ballistic coefficient ratios provide adequate aerodynamic and guided corridors for future aerocapture missions. While the preliminary guidance algorithm demonstrates only modest insertion accuracy, this level of accuracy may be tolerable for certain missions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference
StatePublished - May 22 2012
Externally publishedYes
Event2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference - Big Sky, MT, United States
Duration: Mar 3 2012Mar 10 2012

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Other2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky, MT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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