Chennai: The Indian Space Agency has successfully test flown a new technology–an Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (IAD)–a game changer with multiple applications for future missions. ISRO sources said that the IAD, designed and developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, was successfully test flown in a Rohini sounding rocket from TERLS,Thumba at 12.20 pm yesterday.
The IAD was initially folded and kept inside the payload bay of the rocket. At around 84 km altitude, the IAD was inflated and it descended through atmosphere with the payload part of sounding rocket. The pneumatic system for inflation was developed by LPSC.
The IAD has systematically reduced the velocity of the payload through aerodynamic drag and followed the predicted trajectory. This is first time that an IAD is designed specifically for spent stage recovery.
All the objectives of the mission were successfully demonstrated. The IAD has huge potential in a variety of space applications like recovery of spent stages of rocket, for landing payloads on to Mars or Venus and in making space habitat for human space flight missions.
Rohini sounding rockets are routinely used for flight demonstration of new technologies being developed by ISRO as well as by the scientists from India and abroad.
In this flight, along with IAD new elements like micro video imaging system, which captured the bloom and flight of IAD, a miniature software defined radio telemetry transmitter, MEMS based acoustic sensor and a host of new methodologies were flight tested successfully.
These will be inducted later to the major missions. Sounding rockets offers an exciting platform for experimentation in
upper atmosphere, ISRO said.
“This demonstration opens a gateway for cost effective spent stage recovery using the Inflatable Aerodynamics Decelerator technology and this IAD technology can also be used in ISRO’s future missions to Venus and Mars” said S Somanath, Chairman ISRO, Secretary DOS who witnessed the launch. The launch was also witnessed by senior dignitaries of ISRO including Dr S Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, VSSC and Dr V Narayanan, Director, LPSC.