EDL Technology

v0.1 - 22-06-2020

Entry, Descent and Landing Technology

This section of the website gives an overview of the technologies used in Entry, Descent and Landing systems. The systems are divided into Entry, Descent, Landing, and post landing. The technology guide gives an overview of current and future technologies but is not a design guide. The parachute design guide can be found here

The atmospheric entry phase is a phase that reaches from the top of the atmosphere to the point where the parachutes deploy. The phase is characterized by high deceleration and high thermal loads. Generally speaking, there are two main entry methods: ballistic and lift generating. The subsections of this page describe the entry dynamics, capsule or spaceplane shapes and the thermal protection required. 

After the stage decelerated by the atmosphere, parachutes are deployed. Often two parachutes are deployed after each other. Whereas the drogue parachute decelerates and establishes the lander, the main parachute ensures a safe landing. This section describes the types of parachutes in use and the different methods of parachute deployment systems.

Not all missions use parachutes for deceleration during the descent phase. Some famous examples are the Falcon 9 propulsive landing and the Space Shuttle horizontal landing. 

The terminal velocity of the stage under the main parachute is not zero. In case your terminal velocity is too high for a safe landing a landing system can be added.

The mission is not over when the lander has landed. For planetary landers, this is the start of the science phase, for manned missions it is the beginning of the retrieval operations.