The final flight of an Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California will see the launch of an advanced weather satellite in addition to a thermal shielding experiment.
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) mission and NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket Thursday, November 10, 4:00 p.m. will also be released. 25:00 ET from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, According to NASA. If you’re awake at that ungodly hour, you can catch the action here NASA TV or in the live feed provided below.
JPSS-2 will join a fleet of satellites in sun-synchronous orbit that will gather data for global weather models by monitoring forest fires, measuring sea surface temperatures and recording harmful algal blooms in the ocean. Scientists will use this data to create weather forecasts and monitor extreme weather events around the world.
As JPSS-2 departs from the rocket to reach orbit, its payload companion will begin its return to Earth. The LOFTID heat shield after the deorbit burn, it will separate from the rocket’s upper stage. LOFTID will then inflate and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere to demonstrate its capabilities. The experiment is designed to slow spacecraft down and thereby protect their payloads from the scorching-hot temperatures caused by atmospheric re-entry — and not just Earth’s atmosphere, but that of other planets as well.
According to NASA, “the technology could be further developed to support crewed and large robotic missions to destinations such as Mars, Venus, and Titan, as well as to return heavier payloads to Earth.”
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The launch of the Atlas 5 rocket was originally scheduled for November 1, but it was delayed due to a faulty battery. On October 29, NASA announced that the Centaur upper stage battery needed to be replaced and the rocket cleaned up will be launched in five days.
This will be NASA’s 23rd launch on an Atlas 5 rocket, but the last time the space agency will use ULA’s Atlas 5. Start the Services Program (commercial launches of unmanned missions). Instead, ULA hopes to make an upcoming debut Vulcan Centaur rocket until early next year.
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