A convex shell structure for enhanced aerodynamic performance and/or reduced heat transfer requirements for a space vehicle that re-enters an atmosphere. The structure has a fore-body, an aft-body, a longitudinal axis and a transverse cross sectional shape, projected on a plane containing the longitudinal axis, that includes: first and second linear segments, smoothly joined at a first end of each the first and second linear segments to an end of a third linear segment by respective first and second curvilinear segments; and a fourth linear segment, joined to a second end of each of the first and second segments by curvilinear segments, including first and second ellipses having unequal ellipse parameters. The cross sectional shape is non-symmetric about the longitudinal axis. The fourth linear segment can be replaced by a sum of one or more polynomials, trigonometric functions or other functions satisfying certain constraints.
Comparisons with Apollo HERE.