Airbags for Small Landers Design: Study Success

Vorticity and partners TNO/CGG Technologies, Airborne Systems USAand the University of Leeds have successfully completed the Airbags for Small Landers: Design project for the European Space Agency. The final meeting and presentation of the project was held in May 2013 at ESTECin the Netherlands.

In the course of the project, three separate airbag landing systems for two different Mars landers were analysed and designed, along with inflation systems based on the new Cool Gas Generator technology developed by TNO/CGG Technologies. In support of the designs, a complete costed development plan was produced to take the designs through to delivery of flight hardware.  Airbag envelope material tests were conducted at the University of Leeds, along with development of some novel test methods to study biaxial loading and puncture damage tolerance.

A paper summarizing the project, AIAA 2013-1279, was presented at the 22nd AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technology Conference in March 2013.

Vorticity and the British Antarctic Survey

Vorticity Ltd provided the specialist parachute consulting advice to the British Antarctic Survey for their Javelin drop on the Pine Island Glacier.

The project required a parachute which would stabilise the payload and decelerate it to a precise terminal velocity to ensure it embedded correctly in the glacier.

Dr David Jones technical development leader on Project Javelin for the British Antarctic Survey, told us “Your parachutes [consulting advice], and the rest of the javelin (ADIB) project design were a huge success – we now have 30 active javelins scattered across inaccessible regions of the Antarctic.”

For further information about our terrestrial parachute consulting capability please contact Dr Steve Lingard or John Underwood.


Celetrak’s SOCRATES conjunctions database is calculated twice-daily to aid spacecraft operations collision avoidance manoeuvres. This network shows conjunctions of less than 5 km between orbiting objects, including debris, on 29th October 2009.   Our team has expertise in applying network theory to space debris environment data to identify space debris objects for remediation. The team has the experience to enable them to apply generalised network theory to any system in which pairs of objects interact with one another.

Space Debris

Our team has expertise in space debris environment models, conjunction assessments, and space situational awareness. The team has the experience to model the space debris environment using historical conjunction assessments or simulations of the future environment in order to identify objects for remediation.

Image: ESOC Space Debris, copyright ESA