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AEROASSIST FLIGHT EXPERIMENT [ PDF ]
Russell Carpenter
November 2, 1992

[This systems analysis draws upon a briefing given by Michael Ruiz of NASA/JSC, Navigation Analysis Section, on February 28, 1990, entitled "Aeroassist Flight Experiment: Mission Overview," and on the author's own experiences while working on validation of some aspects of this mission's navigation system design.]

The Aeroassist Flight Experiment (AFE) is a spacecraft whose mission is to study aerobraking technology by performing an aeroassisted orbit change maneuver. It is an autonomous, free-flying vehicle, intended to be deployed and recovered by the Space Shuttle. The mission was cancelled in 1991, just prior to moving into Phase C of its design process, the detailed development phase. Thus, its design is quite mature, and, given the general interest of the aerospace community in aeroassist/aerobrake technology, an examination of the state of its systems just prior to its cancellation can provide a good deal of insight for the spacecraft designer. Furthermore, efforts are underway to revive the program (possibly under another name) within the next several years.