The proposed effort focuses on Deployment and Inflation, two critical Entry, Descent, and Flight phases required for successful Venus Aerobot missions. While suitable platform designs must be optimized for the science portion of the flight, they must first survive both the deployment and inflation phases. Phase I develops techniques for providing a controlled low g deployment and facilitating the inflation process by helping to align the multi-cell envelops to help mitigate potential damaged from excessive deployment shock loads or flagging during inflation. Phase I culminates with hangar tests of off the shelf deployment hardware with representative Aerobot envelop configurations to help determine the feasibility of the approach. Phase II will focus on creating mission specific prototype hardware and validating the techniques with a flight test.
Primary application is a Venus Aerobot Mission, but technology will be applicable to other planetary balloon efforts. Current NASA efforts are focused on developing prototype platforms for future mission opportunities, but are primarily focused on the science phase and the Aerobot’s ability to perform the desired altitude maneuvers and suitable mission duration.
The techniques developed under this effort also apply to the fast-growing commercial operation of high-altitude platforms, specifically those requiring aerial deployments and inflations