For destinations with an atmosphere, one of the challenges NASA faces is how to deliver heavy payloads (experiments, equipment, and people) because current rigid aeroshells are constrained by a rocket’s shroud size. One answer is an inflatable aeroshell that can be deployed to a scale much larger than the shroud. This technology enables a variety of proposed NASA missions to destinations such as Mars, Venus, Titan as well as return to Earth.
Technology developed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, will fly on the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of…
NASA Successfully Tests LOFTID Inflatable Heat Shield
LOFTID launched to demonstrate inflatable heat shield technology. After liftoff on an Atlas V rocket, LOFTID inflated and deployed in space. After being released by the rocket’s upper stage, the heat shield re-entered Earth's atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. The team recovered the LOFTID aeroshell and early indications show the demonstration was successful.
NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) heat shield inflates in orbit before its re-entry and splashdown on Thursday, Nov. 10.
LOFTID Fact Sheet
The LOFTID demonstration is poised to revolutionize the way NASA and industry deliver payloads to planetary destinations with atmospheres.
The Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID), dedicated to the memory of Bernard Kutter, program manager, is a partnership between NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to demonstrate an inflatable aerodynamic decelerator, or aeroshell, technology that could one day help land humans on Mars.
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-2 civilian polar-orbiting weather satellite for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) tech demo lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 1:49 a.m. PST (4:49 a.m. EST) Nov. 10, 2022