New heat shield test a ‘major step’ for future Mars missions

NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator technology demonstration, or LOFTID, launched and landed this morning. The experimental heat shield technology is needed for any future crewed missions on Mars.

Sadaf Sobhani is an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell University and a former research associate at the NASA Ames Research Center. She teaches a course on spacecraft thermal management and her research activities focus on thermal management and energy conversion.

Sobhani says: 

“In the past decade, we have seen substantial advancements in inflatable and mechanically deployable technologies. The LOFTID test represents a major step towards flight readiness of large surface area heatshields. This is important because future exploration missions, such as landing humans on Mars, will require heatshields much larger than what can fit within a rocket payload, therefore deployable technologies will enable such otherwise unattainable missions.”

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