NASA’s inflatable flying saucer aces Mars heat shield reentry test


“NASA is a step closer to landing even larger vehicles on Mars. Following being launched aboard the last United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blastoff from the West Coast on Wednesday (Nov. 10) [sic], an inflatable heat shield technology demonstrator called LOFTID appeared to make a flawless journey to space and back. If that is indeed the case, this mission marks a keystone moment in NASA’s long journey to eventually bring humans to Mars. … The $93 million LOFTID, which launched alongside the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2), is an expandable aeroshell designed to slow a spacecraft’s entry through the Martian sky and reduce the amount of heat created by atmospheric friction. NASA says the tech represents one solution to landing in the ultra-thin Martian atmosphere, which makes landings especially delicate because spacecraft encounter only a fraction of drag compared to Earth’s atmosphere.” (11/10/22)