The Moon makes a stunning backdrop for the successful launch of the third in a series of polar-orbiting weather satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and our Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) on Nov. 10 at 4:49 a.m. EST from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carried the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-2 and LOFTID.

JPSS-2 will circle the globe 14 times a day 512 miles above Earth, providing forecasters the benefit of three polar-orbiting satellites operating simultaneously, joining its predecessors Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) and NOAA-20.

Following JPSS-2’s deployment, the LOFTID heat shield autonomously inflated and re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, splashing down about 500 miles off the coast of Hawaii just over two hours and ten minutes after launch.

Image Credit: United Launch Alliance

Source: NASA