Deployable aerodynamic decelerators are an enabling technology for missions to planets and moons with atmospheres as well as for returning payloads to Earth. These decelerators require a gas source for inflation, and the objective is to further advance solid-state hydrogen gas generators.
Anasphere has demonstrated a gas generator suitable for use with Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (HIADs). Subsequent research has shown that a far more mass-efficient design may be built using an alternative construction method coupled with similar but improved chemistry. Phase I work will involve optimizing the chemistry of the system components to ensure that the generators remain compatible with HIADs. Specifically, the new design exposes the HIAD to more species than just hydrogen, and these species will be identified, quantified, and reduced or controlled as necessary. Test generators will be built to demonstrate filtration and cooling technologies required to implement the more mass-efficient design.
Phase II work will include scaling up the new design and subjecting it to extensive environmental tests.
The primary NASA application will be Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (HIADs) as planned for use on missions to planets and moons with atmospheres as well as returning payloads to Earth. An additional application could be the inflation of planetary balloons.
Low-cost access to space will be enabled by HIAD systems which apply this generator technology because HIADs offer a practical means of recovering launch vehicle components such as engines. Commercial space ventures can also apply HIAD technology for the more efficient return of material to Earth.
Terrestrial balloon inflation is another application area.