The issue of slowing down
During the years, NASA was using decelerators in order to slow down space vessels as they are preparing to land on Earth. These decelerators are generating drag and limit acceleration and they are actually working like a parachute.
NASA wants to make sure that these decelerators that will be used in the space missions in the future will be able to work in different conditions and withstand packing and compression. That’s why the agency had do make scaled-down version of the latest Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator in order to ensure that the packing process won’t be a problem
With the use of the vacuum pump, the engineers from NASA were allowed to squeeze the 3-meter inflatable into a much smaller space. They packed and unpacked this decelerator many times, in order to see if everything works like it should be working.
Allowing for a slow descent
As Sean Hancock, the Langley test engineer said – the hypersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator was packed in the same way every time in order to see how the material can actually handle folding, compressing and packing.
The HIAD would be able to allow a slower descent of any vehicle through the atmosphere in the future space missions. Also, the technology could protect the craft from the very intense heat on the journey down. Keith Johnson, who is the HIAD lead engineer, said that the small test “donut” have contained all the components for the latest design.
This research will allow NASA to develop much bigger prototype which will bring us one step closer to finally arriving and settling on the Red Planet.