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IRDT 1, 2, 2R

IRDT 1 (1st cascade of heatshield deployed)

IRDT 1 (2nd cascade of heatshield deployed)

IRDT (Inflatable Re-Entry and Descent Technology) is a new technology to return payloads from orbit without a heavy heatshield and parachute system. A inflatable cone provides protection during reentry and a second inflatable extension of the cone reduces the speed further for a safe landing.

The IRDT concept was initially developed for the surface probes of the Mars 96 mission, lost at launch on November 1996 in a launch failure.

During the first test, the second cascade was not deployed correctly and the demonstrator hit the ground with too high speed, causing some damage to the spacecraft. It landed in a snow storm and was found several days later. This was the only orbital test, flown on the maiden Soyuz-U Fregat rocket. The later tests were flown suborbital.

An other attempt failed, when the IRDT/Cosmos-Test did not separate from the Volna launch vehicle.

The IRDT 2 flight vehicle has not been found. It appears, that the protective cone of the payload has been detached to early and the IRDT 2 payload has been damaged during stage 3 burn of the Volna launch vehicle.

A reflight of the experiment as IRDT 2R was launched successfully in October 2004, again on a suborbital Volna flight. Again, the recovery of the vehicle failed.

Nation: Russia, Europe
Type / Application: Inflatable heatshield technology
Operator: ESA
Contractors: NPO Lavochkin
Equipment: IRDT shield
Configuration:
Propulsion: None
Power: Batteries
Lifetime:
Mass: 112 kg (#1), 146 kg (#2)
Orbit: 604 km × 581 km, 64.9 (#1); suborbital (#2, 2R)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
IRDT 1 ? 08.02.2000 Ba LC-31/6 Soyuz-U Fregat with IRDT-Fregat, Gruzovoy Maket
IRDT 2 N/A 12.07.2002 @BS (K-44 Ryazan) *P Volna
IRDT 2R N/A 06.10.2005 @BS (K-496 Borisoglebsk) * Volna

* = suborbital mission