Reentry Breakup Recorder: An innovative device for collecting data during breakup of reentering objects
Ailor W, et al. (2011). "Reentry Breakup Recorder: An innovative device for collecting data during breakup of reentering objects." 5th IAASS Conference
More than 40 large, human-made, uncontrolled objects reenter the earth's atmosphere every year, and some fraction of the mass of each object survives to impact the ground or water. Some of these surviving objects are sizable and potentially hazardous. Recognizing this fact, space agencies are developing regulations and standards to limit ground hazards. Unfortunately, detailed information on how objects respond to the severe heating and loads environment is not available due to the difficulty in recording and broadcasting data during reentry and breakup. The Reentry Breakup Recorder (REBR) was developed using a different paradigm – rather than broadcasting data during the breakup event, record the data and broadcast it after the reentry has effectively ended, but before the data recorder actually impacts the Earth's surface. The paper describes how this approach minimizes the weight of the recording device and the overall cost of data recovery. The first flight tests of the REBR device were conducted in 2011; a REBR was inside the Japanese HTV2 and the European ATV-2 vehicles when they were deorbited into the Pacific Ocean. The paper presents a summary of the results of those tests and gives an overview of how future versions of REBR will revolutionize our understanding of reentry breakup and might be used to prototype "black box" systems for space transportation vehicles.