An aeroshell is a crewless reentry vehicle designed to transport a standard cargo module from low orbit to the surface. Aeroshells are usually lifting-bodies with a blunt, flattened cone configuration. The hull is constructed extremely light carbon composites and coated with a non-ablative ceramic heatshield. The aeroshell flight computer and avionics are a distributed across the entire airframe.
The aeroshell is assembled around the cargo module from several subsections, which attach to each other with mechanical and nanotech locks. The vehicle uses a standard chemical retrorocket package to deorbit. Within the atmosphere the aeroshell glides to its landing site; it has no engines and only limited manoeuverability. Aeroshells may be equiped with either undercarriage or a terminal parachute cluster for wilderness landings.
Following landing, the hull is dismantled for return to orbit. The component sections are designed to pack into very small volumes. Eight aeroshells may be returned to orbit in a single cargo module. The aeroshell is thus a very effective means of orbit to surface transportation, and is widely used in Sol System and the Archipelago for delivering cargo to remote locations.
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