2 June 2014
On Tuesday, NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project will fly a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle into space from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The test is designed to investigate breakthrough technologies to benefit future Mars missions. Engineers are being cautious about the chances for success for the flight, which will involve sending the supersonic parachute high into the atmosphere at speeds of four times the speed of sound to simulate what could happen on Mars. To reach the desired altitude of 120,000 feet, the LDSD project will use a helium-filled scientific balloon. Once at supersonic speeds, the deployment and function of the inflatable decelerators will be tested to slow the test article to a speed where it becomes safe to deploy a supersonic parachute. NASA has identified six potential launch dates for the balloon carrying LDSD: 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 14 June. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info > (Associated Press)
More Info > (NASA)