This experimental flight test is designed to investigate breakthrough technologies that will benefit future Mars missions, including those involving human exploration. Three weeks of testing, simulations and rehearsals are planned before the first launch opportunity on the morning of
"Our Supersonic Flight Dynamics Test Vehicle number 1 arrived at the
During the June experimental flight test, a balloon will carry the test vehicle from the
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 upper layers of Earth's stratosphere are the most similar environment available to match the properties of the thin atmosphere of Mars. The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator mission developed this test method to ensure the best prospects for effective testing of the new and improved technologies here on Earth.
Anyone with Internet access will be able to watch live as video from the June test is relayed from the vehicle to the ground. The low-resolution images from the saucer are expected to show the vehicle dropping away from its high-altitude balloon mothership and then rocketing up to the very edge of the stratosphere. The test vehicle will then deploy an inflatable Kevlar tube around itself, called the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD). After the SIAD inflates, the test vehicle will deploy a mammoth parachute called the Supersonic Disk Sail Parachute.
While people watching at home may be fascinated by how these two new technologies operate, the
"This first test is a true experimental flight test," said
Although there is no guarantee that this first test will be successful, regardless of the outcome, the LDSD team expects to learn a great deal from the test.
"We are pushing the envelope on what we know," said Clark. "We are accepting higher risk with these test flights than we would with a space mission, such as the
More information about LDSD is at:
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