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NASA — NASA Photographers Share Their Favourite Photographs of…

What goes up, should come down, and from house, with out burning up in an environment. That’s why we’re pumped for the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Check of an Inflatable Decelerator, or LOFTID. Launching on Nov. 1, 2022, with the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Joint Polar Orbiting Satellite tv for pc System-2 (JPSS-2) mission, this expertise demonstration marks the following step in advancing an progressive warmth protect design that would sooner or later be used to land heavy payloads – together with people – on Mars!

Animated GIF of an animation of mission highlights for the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID). We see the upper stage of the ULA Atlas V rocket reorient and position LOFTID for entry into Earth's atmosphere. The re-entry vehicle spins and separates from the upper stage. The inflated heat shield is scene descending toward Earth and motion lines behind the technology indicate the transmission of data during its flight.ALT

Listed here are seven issues to find out about this progressive re-entry system: 

1. LOFTID is the first-ever in-orbit check of this expertise. 

Inflatable warmth shields, known as Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (HIADs), have been within the works for greater than a decade. In 2012, the third of the Inflatable Re-entry Car Experiments (IRVE) launched on a suborbital sounding rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility, demonstrating a 3-meter (10-foot) diameter inflatable warmth protect.

Engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center are standing next to an orange stack of inflated test rings atop a stand during the final test of the inflation system in Jan. 2022. The inflation system is one component of the LOFTID re-entry vehicle demonstration.ALT

However the LOFTID re-entry automobile, at 19.7 ft (6 meters) in diameter, would be the largest blunt physique aeroshell to ever undergo atmospheric entry. Designed to face up to temperatures as excessive as 2900°F (1600°C), this first-ever in-orbit check of this expertise will show if it will probably efficiently decelerate giant payloads – comparable to crewed spacecraft, robotic explorers, and rocket elements – enabling them to outlive the warmth of re-entry at planetary locations with an environment.

2. You will discover out how this tech works in real-time.  

LOFTID is exclusive in that every one operations will occur inside just a few hours of launch. After the JPSS-2 satellite tv for pc safely reaches orbit, the LOFTID automobile will separate from the higher stage of the Atlas V rocket and start re-entry into Earth’s environment. If all goes as deliberate, the expertise will assist the automobile decelerate from hypersonic (greater than 25 occasions quicker than the pace of sound) right down to subsonic flight, lower than 609 miles per hour for a protected splash down and restoration from the Pacific Ocean. 

Whereas in flight, engineers at NASA’s Langley Analysis Middle will obtain location knowledge each 20 seconds and onboard sensors and cameras will report extra complete knowledge in regards to the expertise’s efficiency. You may get a behind-the-scenes take a look at Langley’s Flight Mission Assist Middle the place the LOFTID venture workforce can be monitoring the flight check at NASA.gov/reside following the launch.

Graphic of the LOFTID Mission Timeline and Flight Path illustrating the important milestones in the technology demonstration. The background imagery on the left is the launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. From the launchpad, the stages of the launch sequence and separation are identified by different icons and timelines starting with the booster separation, and moving through payload spacecraft separation, the aeroshell inflation and the Centaur upper stage orientation and spin. We see a rendering of the heat shield separating at L+70 minutes and LOFTID beginning its descent toward Earth. We see LOFTID's parachute deployed and its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean depicted at the L+125 minute mark.ALT

3. A lemon-sized capsule ejected into the Pacific Ocean will maintain key flight knowledge. 

The LOFTID re-entry automobile will report each sensor and digicam knowledge throughout its flight. The information will embrace the temperatures and pressures skilled by the warmth protect and can illustrate how properly the expertise carried out through the demonstration.

Though the purpose is to retrieve the LOFTID re-entry automobile after it splashes down within the Pacific Ocean, the workforce needed a back-up choice simply in case they will’t recuperate it. Enter the tiny yellow package deal known as an ejectable knowledge module (EDM) which will even report flight knowledge. The EDM can be launched from the spacecraft at an altitude of about 50,000 ft. It’ll free fall into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii and may land inside 10 miles of the spacecraft’s splash down location. A restoration workforce, that has practiced hide-and-seek of the EDM on land and sea, will use GPS to go looking an roughly 900-mile space of the Pacific Ocean to seek out their “lemon.”

Four men are pictured wearing life vests aboard a U.S. Army Landing Craft Utility boat as they conducted a water recovery test of the ejectable data module for the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID).ALT

4. This warmth protect packs a punch. 

Though NASA has traditionally relied on inflexible aeroshells, parachutes, and retro-propulsion (rockets) to decelerate individuals, automobiles, and {hardware} throughout entry, descent, and touchdown operations, a good thing about inflatable warmth shields is that they take up much less house in a rocket, permitting extra room for different {hardware} or payloads. LOFTID’s aeroshell has been folded and tightly packed right down to 4 by 1.5 ft for launch and stacked within the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket payload fairing.

Close up of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V payload fairing containing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) as it arrived at the vertical integration facility at Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB) in California. We see the hand-painted JPSS-2 mission patch on the top of the fairing, the NOAA and NASA logos beneath, and then LOFTID mission patch underneath.ALT

5. LOFTID is devoted in honor of one among its innovators.  

LOFTID was developed as a partnership with ULA and is devoted to the reminiscence of Bernard Kutter, ULA supervisor of superior packages, who handed away in August 2020. Kutter was instrumental in advancing the inflatable warmth protect design and creating the plan to check the system on an Atlas V rocket. He was an advocate for each house expertise and increasing entry to house. Kutter’s NASA and ULA counterparts agree that LOFTID is unlikely to have made it to house with out his imaginative and prescient and keenness.

6. LOFTID is product of powerful stuff. 

Artificial fibers make up the inflatable construction, braided into tubes which can be, by weight, 10 occasions stronger than metal. The tubes are coiled in order that they type the form of a blunt cone when inflated. The thermal safety system that covers the inflatable construction can survive searing entry temperatures as much as 2,900 levels Fahrenheit. Researchers used the identical heat-shielding supplies to create a hearth shelter prototype for firefighters battling forest fires.

7. You can also make your individual LOFTID Halloween costume! 

Nonetheless searching for an out-of-this world Halloween costume? With just a few generally discovered supplies, like orange pool noodles and duct tape, you’ll be able to create your individual LOFTID costume. Nonetheless, we make no guarantees of defending or slowing you down from turning into the lifetime of the celebration.

In front of the NASA worm logo on the stone wall outside the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington, is a woman wearing the make-your-own LOFTID Halloween costume. She wears black long-sleeved shirt, gloves and pants, and has yellow suspenders holding up a stack of orange pool noodles in the shape of rings meant to represent the inflatable heat shield technology.ALT

Observe @NASA_Technology for the newest updates on LOFTID. Don’t miss our reside protection main as much as launch from the Vandenberg House Pressure Base in California. The NASA Edge JPSS-2 Tower Rollback Present airs reside on NASA TV and YouTube on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 12 a.m. EDT, and NASA TV reside launch protection will start at 4:45 a.m. EDT. 

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