Inflatable Heat Shield One Step Closer to 2022 Demonstration

The flexible thermal protection system contains two outer surface layers made of ceramic fiber fabric, several layers of insulator, and then a gas barrier that prevents hot gases from getting to directly to the inflatable structure. The inflatable structure is a high temperature capable, flexible structure that is inflated to provide the cone shape that the FTPS drapes over. (Credits: NASA/Greg Swanson)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — A NASA technology that could one day help land humans on Mars is about to head into final integration and testing before a sub-orbital flight test next year.

Two key components of the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) are complete and recently arrived at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. At Langley, engineers will test the complete system to ensure LOFTID is flight ready.


HIAD Heat Shield Material Feels the Burn During Arc Jet Testing

Small cutouts of the Flexible Thermal Protection System for NASA’s Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or HIAD, were exposed to temperatures up to approximately 2,700 F during testing at Boeing’s Large Core Arc Tunnel in St. Louis, Missouri. (Credit: Boeing)

ST. LOUIS (NASA PR) — NASA heat shield material that could one day be used on an inflatable aeroshell during atmospheric entry on Mars recently underwent testing at Boeing’s Large Core Arc Tunnel in St. Louis, Missouri.


IRVE-3 Flight Video

The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was successfully launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore on July 21. IRVE-3 is part of the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator or HIAD project — within the NASA Space Technology Program’s Game Changing Development Program.

NASA Plans Inflatable Hypersonic Heat Shield Test on Monday

NASA has rescheduled the third Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) for Monday. The experimental heat shield will be lofted by a suborbital rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia.

The test is part of the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) project, which is being conducted under NASA’s Game Changing Technologies program. In addition to allowing NASA to send larger vehicles to other worlds, the technology could be used to return payloads from the International Space Station. For example, a HIAD might allow for the recovery of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus freighter, which has been designed to burn up in the atmosphere after delivering supplies to the station.