The Brillance of Ingenuity

CFDRC wins NASA contract to design a Light-weight Inflatable Structural Airlock (LISA)

Huntsville, Ala. | March, 28, 2016 – CFD Research Corporation (CFDRC) in collaboration with Thin Red Line Aerospace (TRLA) has won a $750k NASA contract to advance design of the team’s innovative light-weight inflatable airlock structure for integration with deep space and surface platforms hosting extra-vehicular activities (EVAs).

Our deployable fabric airlock design is capable of delivering the lowest mass and greatest versatility of any competing design. Pictured below, the system furthermore incorporates an entirely “soft” EVA hatch that potentially eliminates the need for any form of conventionally heavy, metal alternative. The inflatable airlock will stow compactly for transport to the habitat further reducing logistic costs.

One variant of our inflatable airlock conceptual design (pictured below) features a completely integrated air beam inter-wall to passively generate the wall stiffness required for airlock depressurization—without the mass and bulk of aluminum pressure hulls or complexity of multi-structure adaptations of competing inflatable habitat architectures.

The design is a modification of Thin Red Line Aerospace’s patented Ultra High Performance Pressure Vessel (UHPV), the only fabric pressure vessel design with fully determinate load paths which allows for true mass optimization. This unique architecture utilizes a matrix of braided fiber tendons to contain the structure’s global pressure loads. TRLA is a leader in design and manufacture of the highest performance fabric and deployable structures.

About CFD Research Corporation: Since its inception in 1987, CFDRC has worked with government agencies, businesses and academia to provide innovative solutions within the Aerospace & Defense, Biomedical & Life Sciences, and Energy & Materials industries. Over the years CFDRC has earned multiple national awards for successful application and commercialization of innovative component/system technology prototypes, multi-physics simulation software and multi-disciplinary analyses. Learn more at

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