Inflatables, the next level: from lilos to a hypersonic inflatable re-entry heat shield
NASA has successfully tested it’s Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3). The inflatable jacket for space capsules was shown to slow and protect the capsule during reentry. The inflatable is pumped full of Nitrogen gas allowing it to withstand high heat and pressure. This re-entry adaptation has the potential to allow spacecraft to carry larger, heavier scientific instruments and other tools for exploration.