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KRUPS Team Receives ISSRDC Award

September 20, 2022

The University of Kentucky team that developed the Kentucky Re-entry and Universal Payload System (KRUPS) project received an Innovation and Technology Demonstration award at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) in July 2022.

The KRUPS team led by Alexandre Martin, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), included William T. Smith, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; J. Tyler Nichols, an MAE graduate who is now a Ph.D. student at CU Boulder; John Schmidt, an MAE graduate student and engineer at Northrop-Grumman; and Matt Ruffner, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The KRUPS project delivered two capsules from the International Space Station on Dec. 15, 2021, and made history by being the first time a university-built entry capsule successfully transited a planetary atmosphere; the first time a university flew a hypersonic vehicle; and the first time a 3D-printed heat shield flew on an entry mission.

The data — temperature measurements recorded over a 9-minute span — will help scientists build better thermal protection systems (TPS). These systems protect a payload — whether astronauts, equipment or scientific instruments — during the harsh flight into the atmosphere of a distant planet or on its return to Earth.

The ISSRDC conference was hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc., manager of the ISS National Laboratory; NASA; and the American Astronautical Society (AAS). ISSRDC showcases how the space station continues to provide a valuable platform for research and technology development that benefits humanity and enables a robust and sustainable market in low Earth orbit.