Liftoff! Stunning Photos of Successful Launch for JPSS-2, LOFTID

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 November 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. Credit: United Launch Alliance

Last week the NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) satellite, with NASA’s LOFTID technology demonstration along for the ride, lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Powered by 860,000 pounds of thrust from the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket’s RD-180 engine, the launch that occurred at 1:49 a.m. PST on November 10. It resulted in some stunning photographs captured by NASA, United Launch Alliance, and the United States Space Force, as can be seen below.

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.

NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System-2 Atlas V Rocket

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) satellite with NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) as a secondary payload, stand ready to lift off atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in Cali fornia on November 10. Credit: NASA/Liz Wilk

Tower Rollback ULA Atlas V JPSS-2

The Mobile Service Tower rolls back from the 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) from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. Credit: United Launch Alliance

Tower Rollback ULA Atlas V JPSS-2

Credit: United Launch Alliance

ULA Atlas V JPSS-2/LOFTID Liftoff

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) lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 on November 10 at 1:49 a.m. PST. Credit: United Launch Alliance

ULA Atlas V JPSS-2/LOFTID Liftoff

Credit: United Launch Alliance

ULA Atlas V JPSS-2/LOFTID Liftoff

Credit: United Launch Alliance

ULA Atlas V JPSS-2/LOFTID Liftoff

Credit: United Launch Alliance

JPSS-2/LOFTID Rocket Liftoff

Credit: USSF 30th Space Wing/Joe Davila

JPSS-2/LOFTID Liftoff

Credit: USSF 30th Space Wing/Joe Davila

ULA Atlas V JPSS-2/LOFTID Liftoff

Credit: United Launch Alliance

ULA Atlas V JPSS-2/LOFTID Liftoff

Credit: United Launch Alliance

ULA Atlas V JPSS-2/LOFTID Liftoff

Credit: United Launch Alliance

JPSS-2/LOFTID Launch

Credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin


JPSS-2/LOFTID isolated views featuring launch, JPSS-2 spacecraft separation, LOFTID inflation, LOFTID spin up and spacecraft separation, and LOFTID splashdown. Credit: NASA