Technology Demonstration of the KRUPS Capsule for Heat-Shield Testing

Grants and Contracts Details


The Kentucky Re-entry Universal Payload System (KRUPS) is a low cost, re-entry vehicle developed by students at the University of Kentucky. KRUPS aims at advancing aerothermodynamic physics while serving as a universal payload system for upper atmospheric and micro-gravity experiments. The design of KRUPS has been ongoing for the last 4 years, starting from conceptual design to baseline qualifications. Last year, KRUPS underwent several critical system validations by being tested in rocket flights. Over the last few years, NASA has started the development of several of small capsules, of various sizes, for various purposes. For instance, the REBR capsule (Aerospace Corp./NASA Ames) was designed to record re-entry breakup patterns for large orbital debris entering the atmosphere. REBR flew on several missions, with successful results on the great majority of them. Building on that, the Maraia capsule (NASA JSC) was designed with the purpose of providing a quick payload return option for the ISS. At the same time, both the Red-DATA (TVA/NASA JSC) and the SPRITES capsule (NASA Ames) were intended to test heat shield materials in flight conditions. The KRUPS capsule was inspired by these designed, framing the project through student research experience. Apart from the successful REBR flights, all the capsules described here had one common failure point: the communication system. The current work aims at directly addressing this issue by proposing a series of balloon flights that will directly target and validate this sub-system. Following these flights, the KRUPS capsule will have its TRL raised to 5, thus paving the way to raise the TRL to 6 in a future sounding rocket flight.
Effective start/end date1/1/195/31/21


  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration: $270,587.00


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