NASA tests inflatable heat shield on Thursday morning

NASA tests inflatable heat shield on Thursday morning

Artistic representation of a low-Earth orbit flight test of an inflatable retarder (LOFTID).

Artistic representation of a low-Earth orbit flight test of an inflatable retarder (LOFTID).
Illustration: NASA

The final flight of an Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California will see the launch of an advanced weather satellite, alongside the heat shield experiment.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) mission and NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) launch aboard the Atlas 5 at 4 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. rocket from United Launch Alliance. 25 a.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, according to NASA. Should you be awake at that wicked hour, you can watch the action on NASA TV or via the live feed below.

NASA Live: Official NASA TV Stream

JPSS-2 will join a fleet of satellites in sun-synchronous orbit from which it will collect data for global weather models by tracking wildfires, measuring sea surface temperatures and noting harmful algae blooms in the ocean. Scientists will use this data to generate weather forecasts around the world and track extreme weather events.

As JPSS-2 disengages from the rocket to reach orbit, its payload companion begins its journey back to Earth. The LOFTID heat shield will separate from the top stage of the rocket after a deorbit burn. LOFTID will then blow up and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere to demonstrate its abilities. The experiment aims to slow down spacecraft to protect their payloads from the scorching temperatures caused by atmospheric reentry — and not just Earth’s atmospheres, but those of other planets as well.

NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Retarder – LOFTID Animation

“The technology could be further developed to support manned and large robotic missions to destinations such as Mars, Venus and Titan, as well as to return heavier payloads to Earth,” NASA said.

The launch of the Atlas 5 rocket was originally scheduled for November 1, but it was delayed due to a defective battery. On October 29, NASA announced that the Centaur’s upper stage battery needed to be replaced and the rocket replaced. deleted for launch five days later.

This will be NASA’s 23rd launch on an Atlas 5 rocket, but the last time the space agency will use ULA’s Atlas 5 for its Launch Services Program (commercial launches of unmanned missions). Instead, ULA hopes to debut its upcoming Vulcan Centaur Missile by early next year.

More: Amazon’s First Internet Satellites Launch on an Unproven Rocket



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