HyperSizer Customer Paper

"Structural Design of the Titan Aerocapture Mission" (8 pages)


Hrinda, G.


A major goal of NASA’s planetary exploration efforts is to create affordable spacecraft capable of delivering science experiments for long duration periods. To help achieve this goal the aerocapture technique for slowing a spacecraft has been investigated and appears to produce less vehicle mass then an all-propulsive mission. A conceptual spacecraft was designed and studied for an aerocapture mission to Titan, Saturn's largest moon. The spacecraft is an Orbiter/Lander combination that separates prior to aerocapture at Titan. The structural challenges faced in the design will be discussed as well as optimization sizing techniques used in the Orbiter’s aeroshell structure. Design trades required to optimize the structural mass will be presented. Member sizes, concepts and material selections will be presented with descriptions of load cases and spacecraft structural configurations. Areas of concern will be highlighted for further investigation. This study involved the colaberation efforts of NASA representatives from Langley Research Center (LARC), Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and Ames Research Center (ARC). The concept design borrowed from existing flight hardware as much as possible.