NASA Is Testing An Inflatable Decelerator For Mars Missions

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Within the next ten years, the American space agency intends to carry out its first mission to the red planet. The forthcoming Artemis mission, which is planned to launch in 2025 with the intention of transporting humans back to the Moon, will also play an essential part in the endeavor to take humans to Mars. If everything goes according to plan, the first humans to set foot on the Moon this time will be a man and a woman.

LOFTID

The journey to Mars is not going to be a simple one, which is why NASA is continuing to make arrangements for that momentous occasion. The launch of a massive inflatable heat shield into low-Earth orbit is scheduled to take place over the next few days by the space agency.  The purpose of this test is to determine whether or not the shield can be utilized to ensure safe landing on Mars.

This particular shield is called the LowEarth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID), and it is designed to look like a flying saucer. It has a length of 20 feet, and an Atlas V rocket is going to be the one to launch it into space.

Even if they are protected by a spacecraft, future astronauts should be very careful while venturing into the atmosphere of Mars as it is a very hazardous environment.  Because of its name, you might have already realized that this is where LOFTID enters the picture. Because the atmosphere of Mars is significantly less dense than that of Earth, it is significantly more challenging for astronauts to successfully land a spacecraft on the Red Planet in a safe manner. Mars’ atmosphere is significantly thinner than that of Earth, which makes aerodynamic deceleration an extremely difficult task to accomplish there.

The atmosphere is dense enough to create some resistance, but it is not dense enough to slow the spaceship down as fast as it would on Earth’s surface due to the lack of density.

November 9, LOFTID will be launched from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and a JPSS-2 polar-orbiting weather satellite will also be accompanying it on its journey into space at the same time.