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See detailMAGNETOHYDRODYNAMIC ENHANCED ENTRY SYSTEM FOR SPACE TRANSPORTATION (MEESST) AS A KEY BUILDING BLOCK FOR LOW-COST INTERPLANETARY MISSIONS
La Rosa Betancourt, Manuel; Collier-Wright, Marcus; Boegel, Elias et al

in Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (2022), 74(12), 448-453

Aside from the launch environment, atmospheric re-entry imposes one of the most demanding environments which a spacecraft can experience. The combination of high spacecraft velocity and the presence of ... [more ▼]

Aside from the launch environment, atmospheric re-entry imposes one of the most demanding environments which a spacecraft can experience. The combination of high spacecraft velocity and the presence of atmospheric particles leads to partially ionised gas forming around the vehicle, which significantly inhibits radio communications, and leads to the generation of high thermal loads on the spacecraft surface. Currently, the latter is solved using expensive, heavy, and often expendable thermal protection systems (TPS). The use of electromagnetic fields to exploit Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) principles has long been considered as an attractive solution for this problem. By displacing the ionised gas away from the spacecraft, the thermal loads can be reduced, while also opening a magnetic window for radio waves, mitigating the blackout phenomenon. The application of this concept has to date not been possible due to the large magnetic fields required, which would necessitate the use of exceptionally massive and power-hungry copper coils. High Temperature Superconductors (HTS) have now reached industrial maturity. HTS coils can now offer the necessary low weight and compactness required for space applications. The MEESST consortium the has been awarded a grant from the EU Horizon 2020 programme for the development and demonstration of a novel HTS-based re-entry system based with its foundation on MHD principles. The project will first harmonize existing numerical codes, and then design, manufacture, and test a HTS magnet. The study shows that the use of MEESST technology can have a positive impact on the cost-effectiveness and available payload of interplanetary missions. [less ▲]

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