[meteorite-list] NASA Seeks Big Ideas from Students for Inflatable Heat Shield Technology

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2015 15:43:15 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201509182243.t8IMhFYh015647_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

RELEASE 15-189

NASA Seeks Big Ideas from Students for Inflatable Heat Shield Technology
September 18, 2015

NASA is giving university and college students an opportunity to be part of
the agency's journey to Mars with the Breakthrough, Innovative, and
Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge.

NASA's Game Changing Development Program (GCD), managed by the agency's
Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington, and the National
Institute of Aerospace (NIA) are seeking innovative ideas for generating lift
using inflatable spacecraft heat shields or hypersonic inflatable aerodynamic
decelerator (HIAD) technology.

"NASA is currently developing and flight testing HIADs -- a new class of
relatively lightweight deployable aeroshells that could safely deliver more
than 22 tons to the surface of Mars," said Steve Gaddis, GCD manager at
NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. "A crewed spacecraft
landing on Mars would weigh between 15 and 30 tons."

The NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is the heaviest payload ever landed on the
Red Planet -- weighing in at only one ton. To slow a vehicle carrying a
significantly heavier payload through the thin Martian atmosphere and safely
land it on the surface is a significant challenge. NASA is addressing this
challenge through the development of large aeroshells that can provide enough
aerodynamic drag to decelerate and deliver larger payloads. HIAD technology
is a leading idea because these kinds of aeroshells can also generate lift,
which would allow the agency to potentially do different kinds of missions.

Interested teams of three to five undergraduate and/or graduate students are
asked to submit white papers describing their concepts by Nov. 15. Concepts
may employ new approaches such as shape morphing and pneumatic actuation to
dynamically alter the HIAD inflatable structure.

Selected teams will continue in the competition by submitting in the spring
of 2016 full technical papers on the concept. Up to four teams will present
their concepts to a panel of NASA judges at the BIG Idea Forum at Langley in
April 2016.

Each finalist team will receive a $6,000 stipend to assist with full
participation in the forum. BIG Idea Challenge winners will receive offers of
paid internships with the GCD team at Langley, where they can potentially
work toward a flight test of their concept.

For more information about the challenge, and details on how to apply, visit
the BIG Idea website at:


For more information about NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, go


Received on Fri 18 Sep 2015 06:43:15 PM PDT

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