Tech & Science : NASA considering inflatable heat shield to make space landings easier - PressFrom - Australia
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Tech & Science NASA considering inflatable heat shield to make space landings easier

12:42  11 july  2019
12:42  11 july  2019 Source:   nydailynews.com

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An inflatable - heat - shield prototype designed to protect spacecraft on other worlds has passed its first key step: making sure it fits into a rocket. "During testing, we used a vacuum pump to compress the test article into a small space ," lead project engineer Keith Johnson said in a statement from NASA .

NASA ’s Game Changing Development Program (GCD), managed by the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington, and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) are seeking innovative ideas for generating lift using inflatable spacecraft heat shields or hypersonic inflatable

NASA considering inflatable heat shield to make space landings easier© Getty 'Cape Canaveral, FL, USA- January 2, 2011: The NASA\'s Logo Signage at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA in Florida, USA.'

The heat is going to be on any potential manned Mars mission, so NASA is looking for a way to keep things cool.

Instead of using a heat shield to protect astronauts and the ship from scorching temperatures of up to 2,900º on its lengthy journey, the space agency is hoping to try out an inflatable decelerator in space.

The device is supposed to be deployed in 2022, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s joint Polar Satellite System-2 satellite rockets into the galaxy, reported Space.com.

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NASA 's inflatable heat shield , which could someday be used to protect a large payload as it enters the atmosphere of Mars, performed as expected during a NASA said the purpose of the IRVE-3 test was to show that a space capsule can use an inflatable outer shell to slow and protect itself as it enters

[Photos: NASA 's Inflatable Heat Shield Ideas for Spaceships]. The IRVE-3 heat shield is a cone made up of inflatable rings that are wrapped in layers of high-tech thermal blankets to protect it (and its space capsule) from the searing Lunar Robotic Mission Heracles Will Scout for Human Landings .

The decelerator is a significant option to heat shields. Named LOFTID (Low-Earth-Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator), it will test-ride without a payload to ensure the technology can safely travel through Earth’s atmosphere.

“To take humans to Mars, we have to deliver a small house,” said senior engineer for planetary entry, descent and landing Neil Cheatwood. “You need an aeroshell much larger than you can fit inside a rocket.”

Thermal protection will encase LOFTID’s 20-foot diameter to allow the decelerator to remain intact through the sweltering temperatures that the ship will face during entry. The inflatable will be composed of synthetic fibers that will be connected to tubes an incredible 15 times stronger the steel, said NASA.

“If you look at fuel-efficient cars, they’re streamlined to minimize drag,” Cheatwood explained. “Part of their efficiency is coming from low mass, and part is the aerodynamic shape. We’re looking for the opposite. We want to maximize the drag.”

Upon reentry, the spacecraft will drop below the speed of sound before parachuting back to Earth — likely in the Pacific Ocean.

NASA Orion launch: Watch live as moon capsule undergoes critical safety test.
The Orion module is set to take astronauts to the moon in 2024 but first needs to pass a test of its emergency abort system.

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