NASA"s Inflatable Re-Entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) project is expected to launch this summer from Wallops Island on a suborbital flight: After launch the rocket will climb 287 miles (462 kilometers) into the skies over the Atlantic Ocean. The IRVE-3 will separate from the sounding rocket, its aeroshell will get pumped full of nitrogen and then the inflated heat shield and payload will plummet back through Earth's atmosphere. Cameras and instruments will transmit pictures and data to researchers in the Wallops control room the entire time.Jack Kennedy says that NASA and Orbital Sciences are discussing the possibility of of testing such a system with Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft, which can deliver cargo to the ISS but currently has no return capability: Orbital's Cygnus capsule may test space breaks - Spaceports.
More about the IRVE-3 project:
/-- - IRVE-3 Flight Hardware Test - NASA - May.16.12
/-- IRVE-3 Concepts - graphics
/-- IRVE3 "Space Brakes" to be Tested at Wallops - Spaceports - May.16.12 - includes 3 videos
/-- Inflatable Re-Entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE3) - pdf