NASA's Langley Research Center has designed a Multifunctional Boost Protective Cover (MBPC) for a Launch Abort System (LAS). In the event of a crewed launch, the innovation provides a redundant means of saving the crew, and for an unmanned launch, it provides the means for recovering a very expensive, sensitive, and/or dangerous payload. In addition, costs are reduced by minimizing insurance premiums and costly delays to fabricate new, complex satellite systems in the event of a failed launch. NASA is seeking development partners and potential licensees.
The current design enables this increased redundancy with no detrimental impact on mass-to-orbit capability and, in effect, can increase the payload-to-orbit capability of the spacecraft by enabling the firing of the launch abort motor (LAM) during nominal missions to produce an increased delta-velocity or increased mass-to-orbit capability. The invention enables the launch abort function, and minimizes the generation and transmission of acoustic pressure to the pay-load and/or crew. In addition, the design accommodates inertial, structural, and thermal loads.
The innovation also reduces the structural mass of the crew or payload module by transferring the load-carrying structure to a multi-functional boost protective cover that is jettisoned early in the launch trajectory (prior to reaching the orbital velocity), thus reducing mass to orbit. The MBPC also has a very efficient aerodynamic shape that reduces drag and enables increased pay-load/mass to orbit.