Feeds

Flying saucer with 'stadium-sized' orb to INVADE Earth's skies

Awaiting live NASA video of massive Bulgarian airbag

Boost IT visibility and business value

Pic NASA's forthcoming flight of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) – a flying saucer-esque test platform for technologies intended to one day safely deposit larger payloads on the surface of Mars – will be lifted by a helium-filled balloon so large you could "fit a professional football stadium inside it".

This agreeable description of the mighty orb comes from a NASA update on the LDSD, due to launch tomorrow, conditions permitting. The balloon's made up of a "thin envelope of polyethylene that is similar thickness to that of sandwich wrap". When "fully deployed", it's a tremendous 963,000 cubic metres, which, let's face it, is an awful lot of Bulgarian airbags.

In fact, according to our handy Reg online standards converter, we're looking at 1,671,991,110.5 Bulgarian airbags, or on a more manageable scale, 384.76 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Accordingly, we now know how many swimming pools there are to an official NASA professional football stadium, which is handy fact to have to hand during lulls in dinner party conversation.

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

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

Once the professional football stadium sized balloon has lifted the LDSD to 36,500m, a rocket motor will blast the vehicle to 55,000m and Mach 4. If all goes to plan, a "balloon-like" pressure vessel – dubbed the "Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD) – will then inflate around the LDSD, "to slow the test article to a speed where it becomes safe to deploy a supersonic parachute".

The high-altitude nature of the test is intended to simulate conditions in Mars's thinner atmosphere, where the scientists one day hope to increase payload delivery "from our current capability of 1.5 metric tons to 2 to 3 metric tons".

The LDSD will lift off tomorrow from the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii, eventually coming down for an ocean recovery. NASA TV will be streaming the mission live from a tad before 1800 GMT.

If the launch is a no-go, there are further windows on 5, 7, 9, 11, and 14 June. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?