The Adaptable, Deployable Entry Placement Technology (ADEPT) concept is a mechanically deployable, semi-rigid aeroshell entry system capable of achieving low ballistic coefficient during entry for planetary or Earth return missions. The decelerator system offers a lighter-weight solution to current rigid, high-ballistic-coefficient aeroshells and enables missions that are currently not feasible with rigid aeroshell construct.

Compared to inflatable decelerators, due to higher thermal capacity, ADEPT offers a compact entry system solution during the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) mission segment. A single ADEPT can perform both aerocapture and atmospheric EDL.

ADEPT allows the deployment of a large aerodynamic decelerator relative to the size of the launch vehicle that is controllable and can be transformed into a landing system. A structure composed of a radial assembly of ribs and struts in a four-bar linkage arrangement fits inside a launch vehicle shroud, expands into a deployed size, and permits rotation about a pivot point along the vehicle axis. The mechanism that deploys the decelerator surface doubles as the actuation/control mechanism, and triples as the payload surface leveling system.

The design permits the use of conformable TPS (thermal protection system) at the central part, and a flexible TPS 3D woven carbon fabric as skin in the majority of the regions of the aeroshell entry system. The fabric handles both the heat and mechanical load generated during entry. Once the entry system with the payload encounters the sensible atmosphere at the destination, the deployed decelerator slows down from hypersonic entry speeds to an appropriate descent stage velocity. The decelerator can be actuated during entry and descent to generate lift and steer the payload to its intended destination. Retro-propulsion engines provide the final deceleration just before landing, and the decelerator structure is inverted to act as a landing platform and help minimize the impact of landing load.

This work was done by Ian Fernandez, Ethiraj Venkatapathy, and Kenneth Hamm of Ames Research Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact David Morse at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 650-604-4724. ARC-16621-1