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It was originally designed and tested by NASA for Mars missions. In my case, it does not have to work 100%. Even if it survives for only 1 minute or so, during atmospheric entry - it could add some value to an asteroid mining mission.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am looking for a way to decrease the chances of a 100-ton metallic asteroid (piece from it) breaking apart during atmospheric entry. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2023 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ @GremlinWranger - good question. I was not thinking about that part. I thought Earth's gravity assist will be sufficient to get on LEO. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2023 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ @GremlinWranger - thank you very much. Do you think I will be ridiculed if I bring up the option of using an inflatable heat shield in Earth's atmosphere? Some people tell me that this is a nonstarter, because it was designed for a thinner Mars atmosphere. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2023 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ @GremlinWranger - Thank you!!! I am updating my article accordingly. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2023 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ While I appreciate the accepted answer tick, it is generally a good idea to wait at least 24 hours for people in other timezones to have a look, it may turn out there are newer/better design studies or that I completely malfunctioned the math. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2023 at 2:20

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For LEO the answer appears to be a qualified yes.

This design study looks at recovering the 150 kg Vega upper stage using a 4.5 meter diameter system. Scaling for area to get 100 tonnes that looks like a 50 meter radius.

This is notably larger than the 100 tonne space shuttle orbiter with a 23 meter wingspan, due to the larger heat flux that could be tolerated. If a more robust design is possible the area can probably be reduced closer to the 37 by 23 meter shuttle.

Engineering a 50 meter structure that is inflatable is probably not possible but assuming robotic or human assembly presumably already required to load the asteroid into the system a flat pack solution using the same flexible heat shield surface with an assembled supporting structure probably is achievable, possibly also allowing a higher heat loading and therefore smaller dimensions.

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