Feeds

NASA pulls FLYING SAUCER out of Pacific ocean

Trial win for Red-Planet-bound Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Pics NASA has successfully test-flown its “flying saucer” – the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) – after weather conditions permitted the trial on Saturday.

The LDSD is a concept lander design for future flights to Mars. The craft works by inflating a “Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator” (SIAD), which NASA describes as a “large, doughnut-shaped first deceleration technology that deployed during the flight.” The doughnut is actually a balloon-like “pressure vessel” that, by embiggening, increases friction to slow a payload while also cushioning it from atmospheric phenomena.

Lifted from the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility, located on the Hawaiian island Kauai, by a massive 963,000m3 helium-filled balloon – large enough when fully inflated to "fit snugly into Pasadena's Rose Bowl" – the vehicle was released at 36,500m, and was then blasted to 55,000m and Mach 4 by a ATK Star 48B solid fuel thruster.

The LDSD under it helium balloon shortly after launch. Pic: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The LDSD soars majestically heavenwards. Pic: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The LDSD's rocket motor fires. Pic: NASA

Fire in the sky: The LDSD's rocket motor in action. Pic: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The LDSD then successfully deployed its inflatable deceleration airbags (the "Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator", or SIAD), slowing the vehicle to a modest Mach 2.5.

The test mostly went well, although the Supersonic Disk Sail Parachute didn't deploy properly.

Accordingly, NASA hailed the flight as a success.

LDSD project manager Mark Adler enthused: "We are thrilled about yesterday's test. The test vehicle worked beautifully, and we met all of our flight objectives. We have recovered all the vehicle hardware and data recorders and will be able to apply all of the lessons learned from this information to our future flights."

The LDSD being pulled from the Pacific

Recovery vessel Kahana pulls the LDSD from the Pacific. Pic: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The point of all this ballocket tomfoolery was to try out kit for future Mars payload landings, at altitudes which most closely match the planet's thin atmosphere. NASA says: "In order to get larger payloads to Mars, and to pave the way for future human explorers, cutting-edge technologies like LDSD are critical. Among other applications, this new space technology will enable delivery of the supplies and materials needed for long-duration missions to the Red Planet."

The agency has two further test flights scheduled for 2015. It's "analyzing data on the parachute so that lessons learned can be applied" to the next flights. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
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
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
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

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.