Feeds

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

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

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.