NASA tested its inflatable heat shield in orbit

NASA plans to smooth the way to send huge cargoes into space by testing a large air heat shield in Earth orbit. NASA tested its inflatable heat shield in orbit

NASA plans to smooth the way to send huge cargoes into space by testing a large air heat shield in Earth orbit.

Agency U.S. Space Agency is looking to see if this type of inflatable heat shield can protect large and expensive payloads from high temperatures as they enter the atmosphere. For this reason, on Thursday, the experimental version of this heat shield was successfully launched and recovered.

"Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator" NASA's LOFTID was launched from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California by an Atlas 5 rocket at 04:49 am on Thursday (13:19 Tehran time). It might not be obvious from the outside, but this $93 million saucer-like structure could play an important role in future missions to Mars, Venus, and Titan.

LOFTID separated from the rocket about 75 minutes after liftoff. The rocket's upper stage put the heat shield on re-entry by firing the engine twice, and then the LOFTID inflated as it began its journey back to Earth. In a mission update, NASA announced that the device, when fully inflated, was about 125 kilometers above the Earth's surface. They are woven. The final fabric can withstand temperatures of nearly 1,650 degrees Celsius as it travels through the atmosphere at a speed of 29 kilometers per hour. This heat shield will be used to slow down heavier payloads as they land on Earth, or the surfaces of other planets such as Mars and Venus.

The payload will then be slowed down again using parachutes until it gently floats to the surface. come down In a test run, the heat shield parachute deployed about two hours after liftoff and the LOFTID landed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii to be retrieved from the water by a Kahana-2 recovery boat. NASA tested its inflatable heat shield in orbit

LOFTID in Earth Orbit
Credit: NASA

LOFTID in Earth Orbit The duration of this technology demonstration provided limited data. That's why it was so important to recover the shield so that NASA engineers could closely examine the data collected during the reentry and landing process. According to NASA, the results of this technology demonstration will be available in the next few days.

It is not yet clear whether LOFTID performed as expected during the mission. "The heat shield landed in the ocean several minutes later than originally thought based on the mission timeline," NASA wrote in a brief update.

LOFTID had to accelerate from a maximum of Mach 29 to 0. Mach 7 was reduced on re-entry, but the data recorded on the mission still needed to be verified. If this experiment is successful, it could one day help manned missions to Mars, as well as heavier missions to Venus or Saturn's moon Titan. "The LOFTID test is a major step toward the flight readiness of large-area heat shields," the statement said. This mission is important because future exploratory missions, such as a human landing on Mars, will require heat shields much larger than what can be found in a rocket payload, so collapsible technologies will make such unattainable missions possible. /p>

Cover photo: A graphic design of NASA's LOFTID wind heat shield mission
Credit: NASA

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