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February 14, 2013

A giant cone of inner tubes stacked together may someday help cargo, or even people, land on another planet or return to Earth. NASA calls the spacecraft technology HIAD - Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator.

HIAD app HIAD app welcome screen

The main screen and welcome screen of the HIAD app.
Click to enlarge

› Play HIAD App

Learn the challenges NASA faces as it works to develop an inflatable spacecraft. Choose the right shape, materials and trajectory to use a HIAD to bring cargo back from space.

To successfully guide an inflatable spacecraft through the super heat of atmospheric re-entry 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 target the mission is a bust.

Try your hand at landing a HIAD and become a rocket scientist. Advance through all stages at each of the four levels, collecting up to three stars for each successful landing.


The HIAD game challenges players to successfully land a HIAD after launching from the International Space Station and arriving at a target ground point on Earth. To successfully reach the target, players must:

  • Undock from the ISS and use thruster control to steer the spacecraft towards the desired de-orbit point
  • Inflate the HIAD aeroshell to reduce velocity and protect the payload from the heat of atmospheric re-entry
  • Steer the inflated HIAD to the ground target prior to parachute deployment, taking into account the prevailing winds
  • Customize the HIAD vehicle to achieve different performance characteristics to improve results


  • Multiple spacecraft configurations and options
  • Speed and trajectory controls
  • In-game introduction
  • Four levels of engineering mastery
  • Locked levels
  • Scoring for each level
  • Help section
  • Links to related website

Google Play
iTunes HIAD app training screen HIAD app training screen HIAD app training screen HIAD app training screen

HIAD training screens.
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HIAD app steps HIAD app steps
HIAD app steps HIAD app steps

HIAD app steps.
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Page Last Updated: June 5th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator