Extensive Experience in Design and Development

Space Systems

Since the early days of the U.S. space program and the development of the recovery system for the Discoverer XIII reentry capsule (the first man made item ever recovered from orbit) Airborne Systems has been at the forefront of Entry, Descent & Landing System (EDLS) development for space and high altitude applications. Since the 1960’s, Airborne Systems has designed and developed EDLS systems for a multitude of manned and un-manned, space applications. Today, Airborne Systems is leading the way with the design and development of the EDL systems needed for America’s new fleet of man-rated spacecraft being developed to replace the Space Shuttle (Orion, CST-100, Dragon, New Shepard).

The Airborne Systems Space Systems business unit is dedicated to supporting the emerging commercial space industry and is the world’s leader with respect to the development of EDLS systems for high altitude and space flight applications; both manned and un-manned, terrestrial and interplanetary.

Experience and Capabilities

  • Planetary Space EDL Systems
  • Booster Recovery Systems
  • Payload Recovery Systems
  • Capsule Recovery Systems

Planetary Space EDL Systems

Planetary Space EDL Systems

Airborne Systems has supported many planetary space programs over the years. Airborne Systems developed the Entry, Descent & Landing System (EDLS) for the Beagle 2, a British landing spacecraft that launched in 2003. Airborne Systems continues to support other planetary missions and is currently supporting NASA JPL on Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) and the MARS 2020 programs, as well as NASA Langley on the Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (IAD) program.  Airborne Systems is also collaborating on concepts for various missions through the NASA New Frontiers, Discovery and Venture programs. Our new IAD technologies are particularly relevant to larger mass missions to destinations such as MARS and is an enabling technology for future manned missions.

Booster Recovery Systems

Booster Recovery Systems


Airborne Systems has and continues to support a multitude of concept studies and test programs to evaluate the feasibility of recovering boosters and/or engines for various launch vehicle providers.  The most recent operational example for parachute assisted booster recovery system is the Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) program. Airborne Systems believes that booster recovery options offer many potential benefits to the emerging commercial space marketplace and continues to work with various launch vehicle providers on concepts for recovering their 1st stage boosters and/or engines.  Booster recovery would enable refurbishment and reuse, significantly lower launch vehicle costs. From suborbital sounding rockets to large launch vehicles such as Atlas and Vulcan, Airborne Systems has the expertise needed to enable booster recovery and reusable launch vehicles.

Payload Recovery Systems

Payload Recovery Systems


Airborne Systems is uniquely qualified to design and develop payload recovery systems for a multitude of applications.  From payloads launched aboard rockets to high altitude balloon experiment gondolas to ISS down-mass missions, Airborne Systems has the experience and technology needed to develop a total turn-key recovery system for virtually any type of payload. Our recovery systems span the entire reentry spectrum.  For some initial reentry conditions Airborne Systems has developed a family of Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (IAD). These devices enable a new way of recovering expensive launch vehicles assets.  Airborne Systems is working with ULA to develop the “Smart Reuse” concept for the 1st Stage engine of their new Vulcan launch vehicle. This EDLS system will draw upon Airborne Systems IAD technology.  The system will also employ an Airborne Systems Ram Air parachute, ballistic Drogue parachutes and feature our new Mid-Air Retrieval (MAR) technology. Airborne Systems also design and develops landing attenuation systems and floatation system of various types.  These devices enable mitigate payload damage upon landing for land landings and enable water recovery operations.


Capsule Recovery Systems


With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, NASA and other commercial spacecraft providers have initiated the development of new spacecraft for human spaceflight activities. Many of the vehicles in development are derivatives of the Apollo spacecraft and require parachute systems for the return to earth.  Airborne Systems is supporting virtually all of these programs with the design and development of the Entry, Descent & Landing Systems (EDLS) for their spacecraft. While each of the system are unique, they commonly employ a cluster of Ballistic Main Parachutes, Pilot Chutes, and Drogue Chutes that are designed, manufactured and flight qualified by Airborne Systems.