KAUAI, HAWAII (MEDIA GENERAL) – NASA has its eyes set on a Mars landing. Thursday’s test of a flying saucer-shaped vehicle is one of the steps to getting humans on Mars.
NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator project will blast off from the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii Thursday, June 4 at noon CST.
The mission is testing breakthrough technology that will allow large payloads to be safely landed on the surface of Mars or other planets with atmospheres. The technology will also allow landings on higher-altitude sites.
During the test, the 15-foot-wide, 7,000 pound saucer is expected to undergo a “spin-table” test.
You can watch the flying saucer launch live on www.ustream.tv/NASAJPL2.
The live launch will allow the public to see the same video the project manager sees at NASA’s lab in Pasadena, California.
“This year’s test is centered on how our newly-designed supersonic parachute will perform. We think we have a great design ready for the challenge, but the proof is in the pudding and the pudding will be made live for everyone to see,” said Mark Adler, LDSD project manager.
You’ll be able to see about 30 minutes after launch and then there will be a break in the action for anywhere from two to five hours before the LDSD rocket-powered portion of the test starts.
During last year’s flight, the vehicle worked well, but the parachute did not. Improvements have been made since then, and NASA is hopeful the parachute, the largest supersonic parachute ever flown, will do better this year.
NASAflyingsaucer Image credit: Artist’s concept of test vehicle for NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), designed to test landing technologies for future Mars missions. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech.
NASAflyingsaucer1 Image credit: A saucer-shaped test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua‘i, Hawaii. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech