An important step for Space Exploration activities and for a more accurate knowledge of the Earth, universe and environment is to develop the capability to send vehicles into space, which collect and return to Earth samples from solar system bodies. To return these samples, any mission will end by high-speed re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere. This requires strong technological bases and a good understanding of the environment encountered during the Earth re-entry. Investment in high speed re-entry technology development is thus appropriate today to enable future Exploration missions such as Mars Sample Return. Rastas Spear project started in September 2010, with the main objective to increase Europe’s knowledge in high speed re-entry vehicle technology to allow for planetary exploration missions in the coming decades.

The project’s main objectives were:

- To better understand phenomena during high speed re-entry enabling more precise Capsule sizing and reduced margins.
- To identify the ground facility needs for simulation
- To master heat shield manufacturing techniques and demonstrate heat shield capabilities.
- To master damping at ground impact and flight mechanics and thus ensure a safe return of the samples.

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