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ISRO tests IAD technology that can be used for Mars, Venus missions

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A new technology with Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (IAD) has been successfully demonstrated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on Saturday which said that it is a game-changer with multiple applications for future missions including to Mars and Venus, according to news agency PTI.

Designed and developed by ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), an IAD was successfully test flown in a ‘Rohini’ sounding rocket from Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS).

Initially, it was folded and kept inside the payload bay of the rocket, according to the Bengaluru-headquartered ISRO. It was later inflated at around 84 km altitude and descended through the atmosphere with the payload part of the sounding rocket. The pneumatic system for inflation was developed by ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Center (LPSC), it said as quoted by PTI.

Systematically, the IAD has reduced the velocity of the payload through aerodynamic drag and followed the predicted trajectory.

In an official statement, the space agency said this is the first time that an IAD is designed specifically for spent stage recovery and all the objectives of the mission were successfully demonstrated.

“It (IAD) has huge potential in a variety of space applications like recovery of spent stages of the rocket, for landing payloads on Mars or Venus and in making space habitat for human space flight missions,” the agency added.

Rohini sounding rockets are used on a routine basis for flight demonstration of new technologies being developed by ISRO as well as scientists from India and abroad.

ISRO further reported that new IAD elements like micro video imaging system which captured the bloom and flight of IAD, a miniature software-defined radio telemetry transmitter, MEMS (Micro-electromechanical systems)-based acoustic sensor and a host of new methodologies were flight tested successfully on Saturday’s flight.

It is also said that Sounding rockets offer an exciting platform for experimentation in the upper atmosphere which will be inducted later into the major missions.

S Somanath, ISRO Chairman who witnessed the launch 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.”

(With PTI inputs)

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