Feeds

NASA preps flying saucer ballocket flight

Supersonic vehicle, giant balloon, what could possibly go wrong?

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

NASA has announced it's poised to do an airborne test of its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) - a test platform for technologies that may one day safely deposit larger payloads on the surface of Mars.

The LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pic: NASA/JPL

The LDSD flying saucer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pic: NASA/JPL

NASA is developing three devices for deployment in the LDSD flying saucer. It explains: "The first two are supersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerators - very large, durable, balloon-like pressure vessels that inflate around the entry vehicle and slow it from Mach 3.5 or greater to Mach 2 or lower.

"These decelerators are being developed in 6-meter-diameter and 8-meter-diameter configurations. Also in development is a 30.5-meter-diameter parachute that will further slow the entry vehicle from Mach 1.5 or Mach 2 to subsonic speeds. All three devices will be the largest of their kind ever flown at speeds several times greater than the speed of sound."

NASA's already done a ground-based test of the parachute (see vid), and at the beginning of June, "a large saucer-shaped disk" packing a decelerator and parachute will soar under a giant balloon to an altitude of 36,500m. Following decoupling from the balloon, rockets will blast the saucer to a tad under 55,000m at supersonic speeds.

The space agency adds: "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."

Simple as that. The launch will take place sometime between 3 and 13 June at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii. We're promised live coverage "including the rocket-powered ascent", at NASA TV.

If the LDSD works as planned – and let's face it, what could possibly go wrong? – it promises to increase "payload delivery to the surface of Mars from our current capability of 1.5 metric tons to 2 to 3 metric tons", as well as more accurate landings. ®

Bootnote

Thanks to Stephen Burch for the heads-up. He said: "Come on, LOHAN, the race is on!"

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.