Inflatable and Deployable Aerodynamic Decelerators

Deployable aerodynamic decelerator (DAD) and inflatable aerodynamic decelerator (IAD) concepts have a strong potential for enabling new planetary exploration missions. Since deceleration takes place at higher altitudes, targets at higher surface elevation become reachable. This becomes relevant particularly in thin atmospheres such as Mars, and might allow landing in currently unreachable areas.


Vorticity was engaged to lead a study into the feasibility of an new concept of Mars mission, using a deployable decelerator to harness the atmosphere of Mars for aerobraking and capture into a stable orbit around the planet. For this study, several concepts of decelerator were investigated and down-selected.

Inflatable Systems Case Study

The European Space Agency engaged Vorticity to lead the study to investigate Deployable and Inflatable Heatshield and Hypersonic decelerators to perform an assessment to downselect the most promising DAD and/or IAD concepts suited for potential future Mars exploration missions of interest for Europe.

A rendering of IAD designs overlaid onto a Mars topographical map