Small Payload Quick Return

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Small Payload Quick Return (SPQR) is a NASA Ames Research Center concept to return small payloads from orbit.[1]

The system uses an Exo-Brake, a parachute-like drag device for use in the low-pressure exosphere of Low Earth Orbit. This is the first part of a three part return system, operating from 350 to 100 km.[2]


The first test of the Exo-Brake system from orbit began with the launching of the TechEdSat-3p nano-satellite from the International Space Station on November 19, 2013.[3]

TechEdSat-4 is expected to test an Exo-Brake with variable drag in 2014.[3]

TechEdSat-3p took over 60 days to deorbit, while TechEdSat-4 reentered in about 30 days.[4]:Fig 3

A test of the latest Exo-Brake system is expected with TechEdSat-5, expected to be deployed from the ISS in 2017.[5] It is a flexible cross shape that can be warped for steering during reentry.[5]


  1. ^ Characterizing An Experimental Decelerator For Delivering Nano-Sat Payloads To Planetary Surfaces Kevin Ramus et al., U. of Idaho, [1]
  2. ^ The SPQR as an Option for Returning Payloads from the ISS after the Termination of STS Flights Marcus Murbach et al., NASA Ames Research Center, [2]
  3. ^ a b Exo-Brake Parachute Launched From International Space Station by Keith Cowling, SpaceRef, Nov 2013 [3]
  4. ^ TechEdSat-4 (Technological and Educational Nanosatellite-4)
  5. ^ a b Exo-Brake Enables Safe Return for Small Spacecraft. May 2017