/NASA will launch a huge flying saucer-like inflatable heat shield into space THIS WEEK

NASA will launch a huge flying saucer-like inflatable heat shield into space THIS WEEK

Key idea: The Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) is scheduled for launch on Wednesday

Original author and publication date: Sam Tonkin and Shivali Best (Mail Online) – November 7, 2022

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Mars is inspiring new technologies. Are we ready for “Space, the final frontier…”?

From the article:   

If humans are to one day land safely on Mars, engineers are going to have to invent a spacecraft that can slow down enough to survive atmospheric entry.

Known as the ‘seven minutes of terror’, in 2021 NASA’s Perseverance rover emerged unscathed after making its descent to the Red Planet using a basic parachute.

But the landing process is trickier for larger payloads, such as rockets with humans on board.

Thankfully, the US space agency may have a solution to the problem, in the form of a large flying saucer-like inflatable heat shield which will be launched to low-Earth orbit this week.

Once there, the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) will inflate, before descending back to Earth.

NASA hopes the test will demonstrate how the heat shield can act as a giant brake to slow down a future Mars spacecraft.

The technology is scheduled to launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Wednesday (November 9) from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, alongside a JPSS-2 polar-orbiting weather satellite.

If the test is a success, it could prove crucial in helping NASA reach its ambitious goal of launching humans to the Red Planet in the next decade. 

‘This technology could support landing crew and large robotic missions on Mars, as well as returning heavier payloads to Earth,’ the US space agency added.”

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