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Tue, May 20, 2014

NASA To Test Supersonic Saucer-Shaped Vehicle

Technology Developed For Future Mars Missions

NASA plans to test its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) experiment next month at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii.

The LDSD test is designed to investigate breakthrough technologies that will benefit landing future human and robotic Mars missions, as well as aid in safely returning large payloads to Earth. The NASA LDSD test over the Pacific Ocean will simulate the entry, descent and landing speeds a spacecraft would be exposed to when flying through the Martian atmosphere. During the test a large saucer-shaped disk carrying an inflatable inner tube-shaped decelerator and parachute system will be carried to an altitude of 120,000 feet by a giant balloon. After release from the balloon, rockets will lift the disk to 180,000 feet while reaching supersonic speeds. Traveling at 3.5 times the speed of sound, the saucer's decelerator will inflate, slowing the vehicle down, and then a parachute will deploy to carry it to the ocean's surface.

NASA has six potential dates for launch of the high altitude balloon carrying the LDSD experiment: June 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13. The launch window for each date extends from 0700 to 0830 local time.

NASA's LDSD carries several onboard cameras. It is expected that video of selected portions of the test, including the rocket-powered ascent, will be downlinked and streamed live to several NASA websites.

NASA's LDSD program is part of the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA's future missions.

(Image provided by NASA)

FMI: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/ldsd/#.U3YROfldWmB

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