Saturday, November 03, 2012

NASA Testing Helicopter Style Re-Entry Vehicle

NASA is testing a new concept for spacecraft re-entry vehicles.  NASA's work horse has been parachutes for over sixty years or better.  Now they are experimenting with replacing the parachute with a rotor system much like that used in a helicopter.

The system would not be a helicopter in the truest sense as the rotor assembly would not be powered but would be spun by passing air  over the blades to spin them, much as in auto-rotation. The main benefit of the rotor is the design would give a capsule the stability and control of a helicopter, but as it would not be powered, the blades would not provide lift.

From the NASA article:

  • The intent is to give real spacecraft a soft landing with enough control that they could touch down anywhere in the world, whether it be a runway or the top of a building. In other words, wherever a helicopter could land, a spacecraft could land, too.

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