NASA’s orbital flight test, known as LOFTID, is scheduled to take place on the morning of November 1, 2022. It will launch from Vandenburg Space Force Base in California, USA, and will be streamed on YouTube from the space agency.
The intention of this test is to demonstrate the new technology used in spacecraft landing actions: the inflatable heat shield, activated upon re-entry into the atmosphere. According to the deputy director of the Langley Research Center of NASA, David Young, the use of this device will bring more safety at the time of landing.
The shield will act as a sort of giant brake as it enters the planet’s atmosphere during space missions. In addition to NASA itself, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V will be present at the launch, which will simultaneously launch the Joint Polar Surveyor System-2 (JPSS-2).
Once the weather satellite begins orbiting Earth, the inflatable heat shield will deploy upon re-entry into the planet’s atmosphere. This procedure will demonstrate the shield’s capabilities to aid deceleration and survivability of the return trip to the surface.
NASA plans to use the technology in missions to Mars
If the test is conclusive, NASA is already considering using this potential solution in other areas, such as the transport of heavy loads and also of human beings, in space missions, in particular to Mars.
Unsurprisingly, the US space agency plans to conduct manned missions to Mars. Plans for the complex mission that will take two astronauts to walk on the surface of the Red Planet have already been unveiled – something unprecedented for humanity and expected to happen by the end of the next decade. It should be noted that the round trip time alone, for example, would take around 500 days, given the distance between Earth and Mars.
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