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Re-entry Data Recorder (i-Ball)


i-Ball (Credit: JAXA)

The Japanese Re-entry Data Recorder "i-Ball" is a globular-shaped data recorder whose purpose is to obtain various re-entry data and photo images while its re-entry. Loaded into a supply vehicle shortly before its leave from the ISS, i-Ball enters into atomosphere aboard the vehicle and obtains various kinds of data while its re-entry and send the data to ground via an iridium satellite.

While the vehicle is burnt up after the re-entery, i-Ball endures high temperature and falls down with parachute and splashdowns on the ocean and keeps sending data. Although i-Ball stays afloat for a while for data transmission, it will eventually sink in the water and will not be recovered.

i-Ball was developed under the cooperation between JAXA and private sector and was first loaded in the H-II Transfer Vehicle KOUNOTORI3 (HTV3 mission) in 2012. Analyzing the data sent from i-Ball will lead to an identification of breakup phenomenon of re-entering vehicles and decrease of the reentry debris risks. In addition, it will help to obtain design data for future vehicles.

i-Ball overview
Name Re-entry Data Recorder "i-Ball"
Developer IHI AEROSPACE Co.,Ltd.
Obtainable data
  • Temperature
  • Acceleration/ angular velocity
  • Still photo data
  • GPS Navigation data (for an altitude under 50km)
    Total Mass 15.5 kg (17kg, including cover)
    Diameter Outside diameter Φ400mm (410×440×435mm including cover)
    Landing system Splashdown after decelerated by a parachute opening


    i-Ball strapped to waste cargo (HTV3) (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

    Re-entry photo sent from i-Ball

    Re-entry photo data sent from i-Ball (HTV3)(Credit: JAXA)

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