NASA will launch a huge heat shield that looks like a flying saucer into space this week

If humans are ever to land safely on Mars, engineers will have to invent a spacecraft that can slow down enough to survive re-entry.

In 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover, known as “Seven Minutes of Terror,” came out unscathed after descending to the Red Planet using a primary parachute.

But landing is more difficult for large payloads, such as missiles with humans on board.

Fortunately, the US space agency may have a solution to the problem, in the form of a large inflatable heat shield resembling a flying saucer that will be launched into low Earth orbit this week.

Once there, the flight tester will inflate an inflatable decelerator (LOFTID) into a low Earth orbit, before descending back to Earth.

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

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

If humans are ever to land safely on Mars, engineers will have to invent a spacecraft that can slow down enough to survive re-entry. Fortunately, the US space agency may have a solution to the problem in the form of a large, flying saucer-like heat shield that will be launched into low Earth orbit this week.

Once there, the flight tester will inflate an inflatable decelerator (LOFTID) low Earth orbit, before descending back to Earth.

Once there, the flight tester will inflate an inflatable decelerator (LOFTID) low Earth orbit, before descending back to Earth.

If the test succeeds, it could be crucial to helping NASA reach its ambitious goal of launching humans on the Red Planet in the next decade.

If the test succeeds, it could be crucial to helping NASA reach its ambitious goal of launching humans on the Red Planet in the next decade.

What is LOFTED?

On Wednesday (November 9), NASA will showcase new heat shield technology from low Earth orbit for the first time in the form of its low Earth orbit inflatable decelerator (LOFTID) flight test.

The heat shield will be launched into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, along with the polar-orbiting JPSS-2 satellite.

Once JPSS-2 reaches orbit, the heat shield will inflate and be put on a return path from low Earth orbit to test its ability to slow down and survive again.

Once JPSS-2 reaches orbit, the heat shield will inflate and put on a re-entry path from low Earth orbit to test its ability to slow down and survive again.

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

“This technology can support landing crews and large robotic missions on Mars, as well as returning heavy payloads to Earth,” the US space agency added.

When it comes to atmospheric destinations — including Mars, Venus, Titan and Earth — one of the main challenges NASA faces is how to deliver the heavy payloads.

As it is, the existing rigid aerodynamic shells are limited by the size of the missile’s shroud – the streamlined protective cover.

For example, you might remember “Seven Minutes of Terror” where NASA’s Perseverance rover used a parachute to land on Mars last year.

Radio signals sent from NASA and vice versa take 10 minutes for either party to make contact, so after the ground team told Perseverance to get off, the rover took over and made the epic journey all on its own.

The spacecraft blasted through the Martian atmosphere moving at 12,000 miles per hour, but then had to slow down to zero miles per hour after seven minutes in order to land safely on the surface.

When a spacecraft enters the atmosphere, aerodynamic drag helps slow it down.

However, Mars’ atmosphere is much less dense than Earth’s, which presents a major challenge for aerodynamic deceleration.

“The atmosphere is thick enough to provide some drag, but too thin to slow the spacecraft as fast as possible into Earth’s atmosphere,” NASA explained.

The agency’s solution to this problem is a 20-foot-wide heat shield that will be deployed in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, allowing the spacecraft to slow down earlier while exposed to less intense heat.

It will become the largest blunt air object to pass through entering the atmosphere during this week’s test.

After the initial payload is delivered, the LOFTID Polar Orbital Weather Satellite will be launched to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

It will decelerate from the speed of sound, more than 25 times faster than the speed of sound, all the way to subsonic flight, less than 609 miles per hour.

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

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

The heat shield will be launched into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, along with the polar-orbiting JPSS-2 satellite.

The heat shield will be launched into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, along with the polar-orbiting JPSS-2 satellite.

If the test succeeds, it could be crucial to helping NASA reach its ambitious goal of launching humans on the Red Planet in the next decade.

If the test succeeds, it could be crucial to helping NASA reach its ambitious goal of launching humans on the Red Planet in the next decade.

Throughout the flight, a real-time beacon periodically sends limited data while sensors and cameras get a more extensive data set that is stored on an internal data logger and an output data logger that is discarded and retrieved after re-entry.

LOFTID will deploy a canopy to allow a fine mist downward and will be retrieved from the Pacific Ocean.

NASA said the demonstration is poised to “revolutionize” the way payloads are transported to planetary destinations with atmospheres.

She added that the inflatable deceleration technology is scalable for both manned and large robotic missions to Mars.

NASA plans to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s after the first landing on the moon

Mars has become the next giant leap for mankind’s exploration of space.

But before humans reach the Red Planet, the astronauts will take a series of small steps back to the Moon for a year-long mission.

Important details in lunar orbit were revealed as part of the timeline of events that led to missions to Mars in the 1930s.

NASA outlined its four-stage plan (pictured) that it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at the Humans to Mars Summit held in Washington, DC yesterday.  This will entail multiple missions to the Moon over the coming decades

NASA outlined its four-stage plan (pictured) that it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at the Humans to Mars Summit held in Washington, DC yesterday. This will entail multiple missions to the Moon over the coming decades

In May 2017, Greg Williams, deputy assistant director for policy and planning at NASA, outlined the space agency’s four-stage plan that it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars, as well as the projected timeframe for it.

The first and second stage It will include multiple flights into lunar space, to allow for the construction of a habitat that will provide a staging area for the flight.

The last piece of hardware delivered will be the actual Deep Space Transport rover that will later be used to transport a crew to Mars.

A simulation of life on Mars will be conducted for a year in 2027.

The third and fourth phases will begin after 2030 and will include continuous crewed exploration flights to the Mars system and the Martian surface.

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