A Heat Shield Experiment Could Land Humans On Mars

The mission is designed to test the inflatable heat shield technology needed to land human crew missions on Mars.

An experimental heat shield tagged along with a polar satellite designed to improve weather forecasting as it launched into space.

The two separate missions were launched from United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket from space launch complex-3 at the Vandenberg Space Force base in California.

Both missions were delayed after the original launch was set for November 1st. A faulty battery on the rocket’s upper stage resulted in the setback.

NASA’s Low-earth Orbit Flight is a test of an inflatable decelerator technology demonstration. The mission is designed to test the inflatable heat shield technology needed to land human crew missions on Mars and larger robotic missions on Venus or Saturn’s moon.

The shields in use depend on the size of a rocket’s shroud. However, an inflatable aeroshell could circumnavigate the dependency and open up sending heavier missions to different planets.