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NASA to test inflatable 'flying saucer'


Posted on Saturday, 24 May, 2014 | Comment icon 26 comments

Engineers prepare the LDSD for testing. Image Credit: NASA / JPL
The space agency is preparing to test a new vehicle that is designed to help astronauts explore Mars.
The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), which resembles the classic 'flying saucer' shape, is now fully assembled at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

The vehicle's purpose is to assist in the process of bringing extremely heavy payloads safely down to the surface of Mars from orbit using a 100ft-wide parachute and two devices known as Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators.

The system is designed to be the successor to the landing mechanism used by the Curiosity rover which was the heaviest object ever to land on Mars. The LDSD system will enable much larger and heavier objects, such as a human habitation module for a future manned mission, to be landed safely on the surface.

"This first test is a true experimental flight test," said NASA's Ian Clark. "Our goal is to get this first-of-its-kind test vehicle to operate correctly at very high speeds and very high altitudes."

Source: Live Science | Comments (26)

Tags: LDSD, NASA, Mars

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 3 June, 2014, 11:37
LDSD Launch Status Updates Monday, June 2, 2nd UpdateJune 2, 2014 - 5:30 PM EDT Due to weather conditions, there will be no launch of the LDSD test vehicle tomorrow. Other potential launch dates include June 5, 7, 9, 11, and 14. Launch decision for Thursday, June 5 will be made on Wednesday, June 4. Check back with us for updates. Read more...
Comment icon #18 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 3 June, 2014, 21:31
LDSD: The Great Shakeout Test For MarsNASA readies for the experimental flight of a test vehicle designed for landing larger payloads on Mars.Credit: NASA/JPLSource: NASA/JPL - Videos
Comment icon #19 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 5 June, 2014, 11:31
LDSD Launch Status Updates Wednesday, June 4 UpdateJune 4, 2014 - 5:27 PM EDT Due to weather conditions, there will be no launch of the LDSD test vehicle tomorrow, Thursday, June 5. Other potential launch dates include June 7, 9, 11, and 14. Launch decision for Saturday, June 7 will be made on Friday, June 6. Read more...
Comment icon #20 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 5 June, 2014, 16:47
News Briefing Previews Test of Saucer Shaped VehicleNASA held a news conference from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii on June 2 about the upcoming test of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project. During the test, a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle will be flown into near-space. LDSD could lead to inflatable spacecraft systems capable of safely landing heavier and larger payloads than ever before on planets with atmospheres. June 3 is the first of six potential launch dates. NASA will issue launch advisories via the mission website, media a... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 9 June, 2014, 12:05
LDSD Launch Status Updates Sunday, June 8 UpdateJune 8, 2014 - 8:12 PM EDT The winds aren't cooperating for our launch of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) tomorrow, Monday, June 9. Other potential launch dates include June 11 and 14. Wind conditions have been the prevailing factor in the launch delays ­ they have to be just the right speed and direction in order to launch the balloon that carries the LDSD test vehicle. The launch decision for Wednesday, June 11 will be made on Tuesday, June 10. Read more...
Comment icon #22 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 11 June, 2014, 11:18
LDSD Launch Status Updates Wednesday, June 11 UpdateJune 11, 2014 - 6:40 AM EDT Due to weather conditions, there will be no launch of the LDSD test vehicle on Wednesday, June 11. The next potential launch date is Saturday, June 14. Read more...
Comment icon #23 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 11 June, 2014, 22:37
LDSD Launch Status Updates Wednesday, June 11 2nd UpdateJune 11, 2014 - 5:43 PM EDT NASA's Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) will not launch Saturday, June 14, due to unfavorable weather conditions forecast for this last designated launch date in the current launch period. NASA will research range availability for the coming weeks and the costs associated with extending the test flight period for launching LDSD's high-altitude balloon and test vehicle, with programmatic decisions required to proceed. Read more...
Comment icon #24 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 12 June, 2014, 22:05
LDSD Launch Status Updates Thursday, June 12 UpdateJune 12, 2014 - 2:55 PM EDT NASA did not conduct the flight test of the agency's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range in Kauai, Hawaii, during its designated launch period. The project's reserved range time at the range will expire Saturday, June 14, with NASA unable to fly the test because of continuing unfavorable weather conditions. Mark Adler, the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project manager and Ian Clark, principal investigator on the project, both from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 24 June, 2014, 22:38
NASA Sets New Dates, Media Coverage for Saucer-Shaped Test Vehicle Flight NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project plans to fly its rocket-powered, saucer-shaped landing technology test vehicle into near-space from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii later this week.NASA has identified five potential launch dates for the high-altitude balloon carrying the LDSD experiment: June 28, 29, 30, July 1 and 3. The launch window for Saturday, June 28 extends from 8:15--9:30 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (2:15-3:30 p.m. EDT). The test will be carried live v... [More]
Comment icon #26 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 June, 2014, 12:25
NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator to Lift Off June 28 A balloon carrying a test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) is scheduled to lift off Saturday, June 28, from its pad at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, during a launch window that opens at 8:15 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (11:15 a.m. PDT/2:15 p.m. EDT). The vehicle, which resembles a flying saucer, is designed to test landing technologies for future Mars missions.This first of three LDSD flights will determine the flying qualities of the test vehicle. As a bonus, the flight p... [More]


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