Weather conditions weren't right Thursday for the launch of the saucer-shaped test vehicle from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on
The next date for the balloon launch of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, or LDSD, is Saturday. Other potential launch dates include Monday, Wednesday and
Winds need to be blowing out to sea so that the test vehicle splashes down safely into the
Unfavorable winds also scrubbed a launch Tuesday.
The launch will show how a new kind of atmospheric braking system performs under conditions similar to those faced during entry, descent and landing on Mars.
The test vehicle is expected to reach an altitude of 120,000 feet using a helium-filled balloon. From there it will be dropped, and a solid-fueled rocket engine will send it up to 180,000 feet. At that height Earth's atmospheric density is similar to that of Mars' atmosphere.
As the saucer descends at a supersonic speed of Mach 3.8, a coated Kevlar "inner tube" should inflate, widening the craft's diameter to 20 feet. The extra drag should slow the saucer down to Mach 2.5, and a super-strong 100-foot-wide parachute will unfurl to further slow the descent.
About 45 minutes later the craft should be recovered from the Pacific for analysis. If the system works,
Most Popular Stories
- James Foley Beheading Video Is Real Thing: White House
- McDonald's Packages Coffee for National Distribution
- Apple Stock Bounces Back Big Time
- Honda's Safe Approach Pays Off in Sales
- Notes From the July FOMC Meeting
- GE Healthcare Bringing Jobs to Massachusetts
- Castro-Blanco Joins Fifth Street Finance Board
- Target Slashes Annual Profit Outlook
- Ballmer Steps Down From Microsoft Board
- Google Kid Accounts Plan Raises Worries