Airbags, Lander, Mars, Pathfinder


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This is a prototype of the airbag for the Mars Pathfinder lander. Mars Pathfinder was the first mission intended to gather scientific data on the surface of the red planet since the Viking mission in 1976. An unusual, innovative method was used to achieve a soft landing of the spacecraft. On reaching Mars on July 4, 1997, Pathfinder entered the planet's thin atmosphere, was slowed by a parachute and then rockets, and then landed by bouncing on inflated airbags. The artifact consists of an engineering prototype for those airbags. The mission airbags as well as the prototypes were designed and built by JPL for NASA's office of Space Science. The artifact was transferred to NASM by NASA in 1999.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Credit Line

Transferred from National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Jet Propulsion Laboratory


  • Synthetic Fabric (Vectran Polyester)
  • Iron Alloy
  • Copper Alloy
  • Coated Fabric
  • Unknown Coating
  • Nylon
  • Silicone Adhesive
  • Adhesive Tape
  • Plastic
  • Non-Magnetic White Metal Alloy Foil
  • Non-Magnetic White Metal Alloy
  • Ink


  • 3-D (Approximate, single airbag): 266.7 × 358.1 × 30.5cm (105 in. × 11 ft. 9 in. × 12 in.)
  • Overall (assembled four airbags): 182 1/4 x 207 5/16in. (462.9 x 526.6cm)
  • Storage (Rehoused in a PSC): 123.2 × 115.6 × 91.4cm, 102.1kg (48 1/2 × 45 1/2 × 36 in., 225lb.)

Country of Origin

United States of America


SPACECRAFT-Unmanned-Parts & Structural Components

Inventory Number