Welcome to the NASA HIAD game! HIAD stands for Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, an inflatable spacecraft technology that allows payloads to survive the harsh conditions of atmospheric re-entry. The HIAD game can be played online on this web site or downloaded to a mobile device. The game challenges the player to successfully land a HIAD spacecraft at a specific location on Earth, after undocking from the International Space Station (ISS). To successfully reach the target, players must:

  • Undock from the ISS and use thruster control to steer the vehicle towards the desired de-orbit point

  • Inflate the HIAD aeroshell to reduce speed 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 spacecraft by changing some of its design features to improve performance

Game Objective and Controls:

Advance through all stages at each of the four levels, collecting up to three stars for each successful landing.


  • To undock from the ISS -> Left-click anywhere on the game screen

  • Fire thruster to adjust HIAD orbit -> Left-click and hold anywhere on the game screen

  • To inflate -> Left-click when the altitude is within the inflation band

  • To steer -> Left-click and hold the steering buttons

A note about steering: The HIAD can be steered after inflation and prior to parachute deployment. Once the parachute is out, you are at the mercy of the winds, so be sure to take them into account.

Game Levels:

Level 1: HIAD Boot Camp

HIAD Boot Camp is a training level. The game play is explained during each phase of the mission to familiarize the player with the rules and controls.

Level 2: Become a HIAD Engineer

To pass level 2, the player will need to successfully land with different target locations and wind conditions.

Level 3: Become a Mission Specialist

To pass level 3, the player will be given the option to adjust one of three vehicle design features in each stage. By the end of this level, the player should have a better understanding of how each change affects spacecraft performance.

Level 4: Advanced

In level 4 the HIAD payload mass will increase in each stage. The player will need to use the knowledge gained in level 3 to select vehicle design features to make a successful landing.