New NASA space technology app educates users at hypersonic speeds

Sep 06, 2012 by David Steitz And Kathy Barnstorff

Want to try your hand at landing an inflatable spacecraft? All you need is a smart phone, a computer or a tablet.

NASA has released a new educational computer Web game based on its Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) project. The game can be played on the Internet and Apple and Android mobile devices.

The application can be downloaded free from those mobile device stores and on NASA's HIAD website at: www.nasa.gov/hiad

HIAD is an innovative inflatable spacecraft technology NASA is developing to allow giant cones of inner tubes stacked together to transport cargo to other planets or bring cargo back from the .

"This game will help introduce new generations to NASA technologies that may change the way we explore other worlds," said Mary Beth Wusk, HIAD project manager at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. "It gives players an idea of some of the engineering challenges rocket scientists face in designing spacecraft, and does it in a fun way."

The game's premise is an that returns cargo from the space station to Earth. As the HIAD summary puts it, "to successfully guide an inflatable spacecraft through the super heat of atmospheric reentry requires the right stuff. If you inflate too early, your shape is incorrect or your material isn't strong enough - you burn up. And if you get all that right and miss the the mission is a bust."

The game offers four levels of engineering mastery and gives stars for each successful landing.

HIAD is more than just a game. It's a real technology being tested in laboratories and in flight. A prototype HIAD launched July 23 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The successful demonstrated that lightweight, yet strong inflatable structures may become a practical way to help us explore other worlds.

NASA is developing the technology as part of the Space Technology Program's Game Changing Development Program. NASA's Program is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in future science and exploration missions. NASA's technology investments provide cutting-edge solutions for our nation's future.

Explore further: Twin fools NASA at brother's launch on one-year flight

Related Stories

NASA fires up rocket sled hardware at China Lake

Mar 30, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA recently performed a trial run on a rocket sled test fixture, powered by rockets, to replicate the forces a supersonic spacecraft would experience prior to landing.

NASA says test flight of new heat shield a success

Jul 23, 2012

NASA says an experimental heat shield for future spacecraft landings has successfully survived a test launch that brought it through the earth's atmosphere at speeds of up to 7,600 mph (12,230 kph).

Recommended for you

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

5 hours ago

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

8 hours ago

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

8 hours ago

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

MESSENGER completes 4,000th orbit of Mercury

9 hours ago

On March 25, the MESSENGER spacecraft completed its 4,000th orbit of Mercury, and the lowest point in its orbit continues to move closer to the planet than ever before. The orbital phase of the MESSENGER ...

ESA recovers IXV spaceplane

9 hours ago

ESA's recovered IXV spaceplane arrived at the Port of Livorno in Italy yesterday and is set to be taken to Turin for final analysis.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.