NASA RFI - Low Earth Orbit Flight Test – Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) Ancillary Gas Generator

NASA concept of Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) used for high-altitude atmospheric entry. (nasa.gov, 2018)

NASA concept of Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) used for high-altitude atmospheric entry. (nasa.gov, 2018)

March 8, 2018 | Source: Fed Biz Ops (FBO), 7 March 2018

The NASA Langley Research Center and Marshall Space Flight Center have released a Request for Information (RFI) related to their Low Earth Orbit Flight Test – Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) Ancillary Gas Generator (LAGG) effort to support access to Mars.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invites Industry to submit a response to this inquiry to assist NASA in assessing the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and possible inclusion on the Low Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) flight experiment of an Ancillary inflation system gas-generator. Industry response to this Request for Information (RFI) is requested within the context of the requirements and general approach described in the following sections and the associated appendix. A detailed description of the LOFTID Ancillary Gas Generator (LAGG) and related system design requirements are contained in Appendix-A of this Request for Information.

Background

A Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) is a deployable aeroshell consisting of an inflatable structure that maintains shape during atmospheric flight and a flexible thermal protection system protecting the entry vehicle through hypersonic atmospheric entry.
Envisioned applications of this inflatable technology include International Space Station down mass, lower cost access to space through launch vehicle asset recovery and high mass/high altitude deliveries (including humans) to Mars.

LOFTID is a demonstration flight project that will be used to validate thermal and structural models, and mature understanding of HIAD technologies. An ancillary inflation system gas- generator is being considered for the LOFTID flight experiment to begin the task of developing hydrogen gas generator technology for HIAD use. Hydrogen gas was selected as the highest storage density solution, and for its possible synergy with future deep space liquid propulsion systems. (though, some other products in the generated gas could be tolerated). The concept chosen for the H₂ ancillary inflation system gas generator demonstration could be used for the limited, initial, in-flight inflation of an inflatable aeroshell decelerator. There is very little micro- gravity flight experience available for such gas generators. Including a LAGG device in parallel with the primary passive (nitrogen gas) inflation system of the LOFTID potentially offers NASA a low-risk opportunity to gather such data. Larger scale HIADs for future NASA missions will likely require infusion such active hydrogen gas generation technology.

Response Due Date: April 17, 2018, 5:00 pm Central


Fed Biz Opps (FBO) RFI link

More on the NASA Mars Exploration program