JPSS-2, a brand-new weather satellite from NASA, was put into polar orbit this week. But this launch was unique since it also featured a test of the brand-new LOFTID inflatable heat shield.
This Thursday, November 10, an early-morning launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket was carried out from the Californian Vandenberg Space Force Base.
The Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) is a heat shield made to automatically inflate as a payload enters an atmosphere, shielding sensitive inside components from the heat caused by friction with the atmosphere.
On other planets, it might be used to land heavier payloads like rovers, or it might be used to land heavier parts on Earth.
After the satellite had been deployed, LOFTID was sent into space, where it inflated itself and reentered the atmosphere. It crashed down into the Pacific Ocean shortly after that, where the heat shield and data module were later found.
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Each of these parts contains a collection of information about the heat shield’s performance throughout the test, information that can now be examined to determine how effective it was.
One of the four solar arrays on the Joint Polar Satellite System or JPSS-2 satellite’s deployment encountered a minor issue.
However, teams were able to address the problem and fully deploy the array; as a result, the satellite is now functioning as intended. JPSS-2 will be a part of a network that NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will use to monitor and predict the weather (NOAA).
In a statement, NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana stated that “NOAA is an important partner for NASA in providing essential data about climate change, weather prediction, and environmental modeling for the benefit of citizens both in the U.S. and around the world.”
Our Launch Services Program successfully completed the launch of its 100th primary mission, and this particular flight allowed for the LOFTID demonstration, which tested a new technology for atmospheric re-entry.