Experimental expansion tube study of the flow over a toroidal ballute

T. J. McIntyre, I. Lourel, T. N. Eichmann, R. G. Morgan, P. A. Jacobs, A. I. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


An experimental investigation of high-enthalpy flow over a toroidal ballute (balloon/parachute) was conducted in an expansion tube facility. The ballute, proposed for use in a number of future aerocapture missions, involves the deployment of a large toroidal-shaped inflatable parachute behind a space vehicle to generate drag on passing through a planetary atmosphere, thus, placing the spacecraft in orbit. A configuration consisting of a spherical spacecraft, followed by a toroid, was tested in a superorbital facility. Measurements at moderate-enthalpy conditions ( 15-20 MJ/kg) in nitrogen and carbon dioxide showed peak heat transfer rates of around 20 MW/m2 on the toroid. At higher enthalpies (>50 MJ/kg) in nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and a hydrogen-neon mixture, heat transfer rates above 100 MW/m2 were observed. Imaging using near-resonant holographic interferometry showed that the flows were steady except when the opening of the toroid was blocked.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-725
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004


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