Feeds

New development in 'stadium-sized' FLYING SAUCER orb invasion

NASA sheds fresh light on dimensions of Earth's sky penetrator

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Pics NASA has clarified the exact size of the mighty helium balloon that will later today lift its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) over the Pacific Ocean.

As we reported yesterday, the agency vaguely described the whopping 963,000 cubic metre orb as so big you could "fit a professional football stadium inside it".

The Pasadena Rose Bowl

The Pasadena Rose Bowl: Just enough room for a mighty orb. Pic: Photo Works / Shutterstock.com

That appears to have been a slight exaggeration. Mark Adler, LDSD head honcho at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explained in a mission update that when fully inflated, the globe "would fit snugly into Pasadena's Rose Bowl".

So now we know, which is a great relief for those of us who've been fretting over just what was the size of the professional football stadium in question.

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

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

The LDSD is a flying saucer designed to test inflatable deceleration airbags (the "Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator", or SIAD) and supersonic parachutes, which may one day safely deliver payloads to the surface of Mars.

The floating Pasadena Rose Bowl will lift the vehicle to 36,500m, at which point "four small rocket motors will fire to spin up and gyroscopically stabilize the saucer". NASA continues: "A half second later, a Star 48B long-nozzle, solid-fueled rocket engine will kick in ... sending the test vehicle to the edge of the stratosphere."

Artist's impression of the LDSD's rocket motor firing. Pic NASA

After the LDSD tops out at 55,000m and Mach 4, the SIAD deploys to slow the saucer to Mach 2.5, "where the parachute, the largest supersonic parachute ever flown, first hits the supersonic flow".

All being well, the LDSD will lift off later today from the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, splashing down for an ocean recovery. NASA TV promises coverage from about 1800 GMT.

The LDSD lifted by a crane prior to launch. Pic: NASA

NASA hoists its flying saucer in preparation for launch

We at El Reg's Special Projects Bureau will being tuning in to follow the action, having a special interest in ballocket tomfoolery. We note that the ATK Star 48B motor packs 2,010kg of TP-H-3340 propellant (including igniter) into a titanium case.

TP-H-3340 comprises 71 per cent ammonium perchlorate, 18 per cent aluminium and 11 per cent hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB).

According to the manufacturer's blurb (page 103 of this PDF), the long-nozzle variant of the Star 48B was first used back in June 1985 to launch Mexico's MORELOS-A satellite from space shuttle Discovery during mission STS-51G. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO MURDER SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.