RIDG-22-001: Kentucky Re-entry Universal Payload System: Flight Testing

Grants and Contracts Details


NASA KY RockSat RID PI: Savio J. Poovathingal 1 Kentucky Re-entry Universal Payload System: Flight Testing Abstract The Kentucky Re-entry Universal Payload System (KRUPS) is a low-cost atmo- spheric re-entry vehicle under development by undergraduate students through senior design projects at the University of Kentucky. KRUPS aims at advancing aerother- modynamic physics while serving as a universal payload system for upper atmospheric and microgravity experiments. The design of KRUPS has been ongoing for 5 years, starting from conceptual design to sounding rocket tests. This scope aims at helping the students integrate their payload with the RockSat-X mission to launch the KRUPS capsule through a sounding rocket test. The students will work with the host RockSat-X team to integrate the KRUPS capsule with the sounding rocket at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in summer 2022. 1 PROJECT SUMMARY 1.1 Introduction and motivation Although many recent technological advances have been made, safe entry and landing of a space capsule still remain a challenge. Two major challenges involved are the design of thermal protection systems (TPS) to prevent the vehicle from overheating, and the deploy- ment of parachutes to eventually slow the capsule to reasonable landing speeds. As mentioned in the Space Technology Roadmaps, innovative solutions on both fronts are critical to ensure successful missions in the future[1]. Although we can now utilize more reliable computational tools for both TPS and parachute mod- eling, uncertainty margins are still large. Moreover, Figure 1: KRUPS capsule used for the testing and assessment of ground facilities remains very KUDOS sounding rocket mission in Au- expensive and are subject to approximations due to the gust 2017 impossibility of fully simulating the exact conditions[2]. KRUPS is a state-of-the-art atmospheric entry capsule developed at the University of Kentucky for the purpose of testing TPS materials[3]. KRUPS has been under development for several years by the undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky. A scaled- down version of KRUPS has been tested on a sounding rocket flight–the KUDOS mission (Fig. 1)–which allowed key systems to be validated[4]. Another sounding rocket flight–the KOREVET mission occurred in March 2018, where a full-scale version of KRUPS was tested. In November 2021, KRUPS became the first successful hypersonic flight by a U.S. University after the capsule was launched from the international space station (ISS). 2 SPECIFIC GOALS FOR FUNDED PERIOD With the initial success, we have received additional opportunities to launch more cap- sules from the ISS in 2023. The project proposed aims to conduct sounding rocket tests in preparation for the ISS launch in 2023. KRUPS is being developed as a low-cost flight platform as a key infrastructure for research development. The development of KRUPS will allow the investigators to apply for Federally competitive grants, a key mission of NASA Kentucky EPSCoR. The project proposed aims to test a camera and a spectrometer that has been added to the on-board instrumentation suite on Kentucky Re-entry Universal 1
Effective start/end date11/1/2110/31/22


  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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