Skip to content

Yellow Dragon; A commercial Venus atmospheric probe delivery system; NASA SBIR 2014/15 proposal

March 2, 2013

Steven Torry Rappolee
Terrestrial & Cislunar Exploration technologies
A Post 9/11 Veteran owned concern
810 334 4374
Fax 810 449 5484
UM Flint Student Business Incubator, #207
423 North Saginaw Street,Flint, Michigan, 48502

We recover our costs by selling science data to NASA as an anchor tenant and other world space agency’s and by selling space on the spacecraft as a science “hosted payload” In addition, we sell engineering data to the human spaceflight mission directorate on the performance of ADAPT/Dragon EDL.

We propose utilizing a Space Explorations technology’s commercial spacecraft to deliver atmospheric probes, balloons and drop zounds to Venus. A recent paper describes the historical record of prior Venus probes and their experienced ballistic coefficients and their maximum (kW/Cm2).

Smith IEEE 2013 V2.2

Venera’s 11 through 12 experienced 4.35 (kW/Cm2) with a 2.4 M ablative shield. the Inspiration Mars study states that the highest (Kw/Cm2)  experienced at earth has been the Stardust earth reentry at 1,200 (kW/Cm2) and at 12.6 kilometers per second. Inspiration Mars would have a Dragon reenter earth atmosphere at 14.2 kilometers per second and this would be an aerocapture maneuver followed ten days later with a reentry. We believe this aerospace idea might work at Venus with the SpaceX Dragon capsule. Possibly both yellow Dragon and inspiration mars could benefit from NASA Glen work on inflatable aerodynamic decelerators, is it possible to use both the existing Dragon ablative shield and an inflatable decelerator ring around the aft skirt of Yellow Dragon? Inflatable aerodynamic decelerators are discussed in this Venus IEE-2012-1343 paper.

Inspiration Mars_Feasibility Analysis_IEEE

NASA Glen through it’s in space propulsion program office provides “in-kind government contributions” to Discovery program principal investigators who are willing to risk these not yet flown technology’s here is another item to be explored in our proposed crowd-funded AIAA  Yellow Dragon mission design paper. On offer at Glen is an aerodynamic decelerator that is too small to retrofit the Dragon. Also on offer is The (AMBR) Advanced Material Bi-propellant Rocket, close to 300 ISP and burns MMH/NTO this might be readily adaptable to Yellow Dragon and other deep space Dragon missions.



Kamikaze Yellow Dragon  

  We at first offer a concept where Yellow Dragon would use a balloon and its Draco thrusters to stay aloft in the upper Venus atmosphere, and we do so now, we know that this would require an exceptionally large balloon! however, at 3 to 4 atmospheres and higher Yellow Dragon starts to become somewhat buoyant as it has a pressure vessel! at these altitudes and pressures, Venus has water vapor and temperate temperatures. We would propose in our crowdsource funding to investigate in our AIAA or IEEE paper the possibility of flying a microscope water droplet imager aboard Yellow Dragon

A similar idea is here on Jon Goff’s blog here,

And Jon Goff’s most excellent excel spreadsheet on rocket buoyancy
If only we could get Jon to quantify yellow dragon and ULA “Centaur Venus lander/floater” and to consider “crush depths”

Alternatively, a ULA Dual Thrust Axis lander based on the centaur could float and land by using both ballast and venting of tanks.

Crush depth for  ULA Dual Thrust Axis lander?


We propose to crowdfund the writing of an AIAA or IEEE paper to evaluate the SpaceX Dragon as a Venus balloon and probe deployers. Consider “Red Dragon” with Mars thin atmosphere this proposal suggests 1 ton of science payload to the mars surface. Yellow Dragon deploys probes in the atmosphere thus offloading weight this, in turn, increase the chances of slowing the Yellow Dragon’s descent into the lower atmosphere and end of mission. The Venus atmosphere is much denser and allows a greater science payload.

A deep space science mission with 2 to 3-ton science payload presents a challenge and an opportunity 

       The challenge is of course funding for such a large data producing payload and processing and archiving such large data transmissions. We believe this may require an additional communications relay spacecraft in Venus orbit and we have such a spacecraft in mind for this and additional deep space missions(Red Mars)The scenario is that falcon heavy has access capacity of Holman transfer orbits to Venus and Mars. We propose in our AIAA mission design paper to investigate the possibility of flying a Yellow Dragon stack with an additional Dragon capsule docked to the Dragon/Trunk. This would be, AMBR engine, Dragon trunk/NTO/MMH/Dragon communications orbiter and EDL Dragon capsule docked to orbiter Dragon. This also is our mission design proposal for Red Dragon-Rappolee.

  another topic to do trades on is not using parachutes on Yellow Dragon EDL capsule? or only using one parachute.after all we are thinking of prolonging the life of yellow Dragon with a balloon and the balloon will need a deployment mechanism, this is most likely going to need space in the nose cone of the yellow Dragon.

   why is the 2 to 3-ton science payload an opportunity?  it means we must mass produce science instruments, yellow Dragon can deploy many dozens of surface lander and balloon probes in just a few tens of minutes a challenge to the orbiting yellow dragon! mass producing science instruments also makes for the business case for Terrestrial & cislunar exploration technology’s company.

we would want to fly to the Venus upper atmosphere where there is water vapor clouds a wolf trap experiment to detect objects in the Venus water vapor cloud droplets

Terrestrial & cislunar exploration technology’s company  business case

 we propose that in the case of Yellow Dragon we would divide our business case into two segments. one is that Terrestrial & cislunar exploration technology’s company is a partner with a principal investigator on a discovery class mission AO, we would be the veteran-owned concern that provides the NASA required educational outreach and public relations. The second business model is that Venus science is not that high on the decadal survey’s priority list so we move on from our discovery AO experiences with a private effort!

   A private effort business model implies that we must sell data over a period of time, time is money. Mass producing science instruments and data also means we need multiple customers to buy the data in the short term and to buy data over a period of years. Both considerations are important. We would bill a $ 500 million mission over a ten to 15 year period as the selling of data plus interest on the use of the R & D and operations money over time.

   Mass production balloon probes may leverage into mass production of Dragon balloon to the outer planets and moons (Titan).

Our proprietary  research and results on the novel use of SpaceX prior art: a need for confidentiality

We propose here a method to make the best use of the underutilized throughput of the Falcon Heavy; this involve a second Dragon capsule docked to the first Dragon capsule and trunk under the payload fairing. This stack of one trunk and two capsules would be used in both the Yellow and Red Dragon programs. since the two capsules are docked to one another the heat shield of the second capsule would be in the front of the stacks line of flight, this presents some possibilities,  one is that the second capsule with an additional deployable aerodynamic decelerator could allow the entire stack to aerobrake at Venus. Both capsules could subsequently reenter the Venus atmosphere while the extended trunk acts a communication relay, Both the IEEE Venus paper and the inspiration mars paper describe aerobraking followed by a secondary reentry. the extended trunk could some days after aerobraking deploys the second Dragon capsule and then the primary dragon capsule and then the trunk performs an avoidance burn to enter a highly elliptic orbit.

How to retire risk in an innovative positive cash flow business model?

Dragon lab is designed for up to two years on orbit, our missions need this and more to succeed. we, therefore, propose that another mission flies first and stay at and loiter near the ISS for at least two years, This Dragon would need the Hamilton Standard   CO2 conversion to methane kit.


We would, however, fly a reverse water gas shift to ethylene kit as well and store the ethylene in an extended dragon trunk, this would be a modified Dragon with a modified AMBR engine designed for an NTO/Ethylene mixture. Both fuels are storable propellants and our RPA simulator shows this mix should work. Zubrin briefly stated in his paper that the RWGS  not only works on mars as an ISRU but should work at space stations as well! what can be more elegant than this, A Dragon uses astronaut produced CO2 to enable ISS orbit maneuvers and orbit raising!when the docking port is needed the Ethylene Dragon maneuvers off and loiters in till the docking port becomes available again.


A mission such as this produces revenue but also retires risk for the need for long-lived dragon components needed on interplanetary missions

    In Kind equipment contributions are treated ether has hosted payload for a fee or as a partner owed a portion of the yearly data for a fee


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: