Mars Electric Reusable Flyer

PI: David D. North, NASA/Langley Research Center

The Mars Electric Flyer Balloon Drop Experiment will drop a ~2kg glider from a helium balloon at approximately 100,000ft to validate natural aerodynamic stability and aero damping, aero performance in a relevant environment and performance of avionics, command and telemetry for follow-on powered hover testing. The aerodynamic and control data gathered from this balloon flight will provide key information needed for the final design of the Mars mission flight vehicle.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA04 Robotics, Tele-Robotics and Autonomous Systems
Problem Statement

Mars atmospheric flight vehicle technologies that will allow autonomous repeated flights with a rechargeable electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. Technologies include: lightweight structures and propulsion, autonomous inner and outer loop flight control with no global positioning system, and advanced aerodynamic design for low-pressure, low-Reynolds number flight. High thrust / low weight vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that have the required aerodynamic design for the low pressure, low Reynolds number environment do not exist. Focused design and testing of airframes, control systems, propulsion systems in a relevant environment to meet the specific set of requirements is needed to realize the Mars flight mission.

Technology Maturation

The high altitude balloon drop model test will provide key aerodynamic and control information on the proposed Mars flight vehicle. The data will be used to update simulations and inform possible improvements in the design. A drop model will be lofted to a 105,000 ft. altitude and released. The glider will fly autonomously through predetermined GPS waypoints and will fly at specific flight speeds to gather aerodynamic performance data on the airframe. The high altitude low pressure environment

Future Customers

NASA Science Mission Directorate and NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    NASA Directed
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 Balloon

Development Team

  • PI
    David D. North
  • Organization
  • Sponsor
  • Partners
    Old Dominion University
    William and Mary College
    NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

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