Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Dasa ready to test reentry technology
Posted: Jan. 26, 2000

Artist's concept of IRDT during entry into Earth's atmosphere. Photo: DASA
On February 9, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG (DASA, Munich) is scheduled to launch the first test worldwide of a new reentry-technology IRDT (Inflatable Reentry and Descent Technology) on a Soyuz rocket.

The Bremen based Business Unit Space Infrastructure of Dasa and their partners from Lavochkin, Russia, managed to prepare for this mission in just nine months time. The ultimate goal is to ensure the capability of reentry for all kinds of space systems, thereby realizing cost efficient space transportation.

"The reduction of transportation costs is the decisive precondition for future scientific and economic utilization of space. Reusable transportation systems will turn out to be the key to this. Together with our Russian partners we are going to realize this IRDT-mission - being one of several promising technologies - to finally get hold of this key", Josef Kind, President of the Business Unit Space Infrastructure.

Two innovative technologies are going to be launched aboard the Soyuz-rocket: a new "Fregat" upper stage and a demonstrator. Both are equipped with the new IRDT-reentry-shield. This shield will inflate shortly before reentry and then function as a parachute to sail its freight back to earth. As the heat shield can be launched in a very small package in contrast to all other reentry technologies sofar in use (i.e. Space Shuttle, capsules), space, weight and transportation cost can be saved.

For Dasa this test mission can be considered a major step towards the realization of cost effective space technology. A wealth of applications will be possible in the future: on the one hand automatic and considerably cost effective transports of samples and cargos from the International Space Station (ISS) back to Earth, on the other hand the re-use of rocket upper stages for the deployment of payloads and even satellites.

Drawing shows the IRDT during descent and landing. Photo: DASA
The mission schedule is the following: Having reached its 600 km orbit the upper stage deploys its payload, an Argentine satellite. After having orbited the Earth five times a braking manoeuvre will be initiated and upper stage and demonstrator separate at an altitude of 150 km. Then their respective IRDT-shields will inflate for deburn and safe reentry. Eight hours after launch both, Fregat and the demonstrator, are supposed to land in Russia. With this flight Fregat will also take a step in its qualification series after which it is scheduled to take the Cluster satellites - built by Dornier Satellite Systems on behalf of the European Space Agency ESA - into space later this year.

As a second "first" Dasa offers to all internet surfers worldwide to follow the flight of Fregat and the demonstrator in real time via internet. Internet users may even test their own "piloting skills" during the reentry phase.

Explore the Net
DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG - German company leading the IRDT project.

Mission 2000 - Web site devoted to IRDT.

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