NASA made two significant advancements toward landing astronauts on Mars in only six days.
On Wednesday morning (Nov. 16), the organization’s Artemis 1 mission lifted off, carrying an unmanned Orion capsule toward the moon atop a massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
As a top objective of the Artemis program, NASA is depending on SLS and Orion to assist the organization in establishing a lunar outpost by the end of the 2020s. If all goes as planned, the two spacecraft will also be able to accomplish even more extraordinary tasks, assisting astronauts in reaching Mars by the late 2030s or early 2040s.
NASA Mission Successful
An inflatable heat shield dubbed LOFTID, which was sent into Earth orbit with the JPSS-2 weather satellite and then slammed down to Earth was tested by NASA last week on Nov. 10 in order to let these crewed Mars missions land safely. According to team members, LOFTID made it through its violent return trip in good condition, indicating that the technology has a strong chance of helping to land large pieces of equipment on Mars.
Joe Del Corso, LOFTID project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, declared during a news conference on Thursday that “the demonstration was a big success” (Nov. 17).
He said, “We now have the capability to both launch and recover big payloads. “These two accomplishments represent important milestones toward permitting human access and exploration. We want to be able to stay in space since we are heading there.” The launch last week offered an ambitious test of this technology. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying JPSS-2 and LOFTID launched in a small configuration. After being released from the Centaur upper stage of the Atlas V, LOFTID grew to its full diameter of nearly 20 feet (6 meters), prepared for an Earth return, and then plunged into space.