step is made
Successful first IAD drop test in December 2021
On December 6th, 2021, ATMOS Space Cargo successfully conducted a drop test of a newly developed Inflatable Atmospheric Decelerator (IAD) prototype.
This drop test demonstrated reliable inflation of the IAD and acceptable structural loads at landing. The third-generation prototype was attached to a 1:10 scale model of a small launcher first stage. It was dropped from 600 m altitude from an R44 helicopter near Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden airport.
The activated IAD stabilized the tumbling rocket stage and decelerated it for a water landing. In contrast to standard parachutes, IADs protect the sensitive rocket engines from a damaging saltwater splashdown. Both the rocket stage scale model and the IAD prototype were successfully recovered.
Unique about our technology is that we use electric ducted fans to inflate the IAD. So far, IADs have always been inflated using gas from heavy pressure vessels. By taking air from the atmosphere, we can build more light weight.
However, this comes with new challenges because of the high air temperatures during atmospheric re-entry. Therefore, the next step in the development process will be to demonstrate the high-temperature materials and air inlets.