The design and performance evaluation of an airbag system capable of decelerating masses in the range of hundreds to thousands of kilograms with impact velocities in the range of tens to hundreds of kilometers per hour is presented. First, a simplified incompressible flow analysis of the airbag is utilized to derive the orifice venting area corresponding to the ideal deceleration for a given impact velocity and package mass. Second, testing with a small-scale model found three distinct control intervals during the deceleration. Finally, a full-scale airbag system was constructed and data is presented on the deceleration, deceleration force, deceleration velocity, airbag stopping power, and overall performance. The deceleration was experimentally optimized for a single impact velocity and package mass and an approximate correction factor was developed to predict the actual air venting required for each of the three control intervals in order to achieve the optimum deceleration for any impact velocity and package mass.

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