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Before the Drop: Engineers Ready Supersonic Decelerator
May 21, 2014

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A saucer-shaped vehicle designed to test interplanetary landing devices hangs on a tower in preparation for launch at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The saucer, which is part of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project, will test two devices for landing heavy payloads on Mars: an inflatable tube and an enormous parachute.

The launch tower helps link the vehicle to a balloon; once the balloon floats up, the vehicle is released from the tower and the balloon carries it to high altitudes. The vehicle's rocket takes it to even higher altitudes, to the top of the stratosphere, where the supersonic test begins.

NASA has six potential dates for launch of the high-altitude balloon carrying the LDSD experiment: June 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 14. The launch window for each date extends from 7 to 8:30 a.m. HST (10 to 11:30 a.m. PDT and 1 to 2:30 p.m. EDT).

This image was taken during the vehicle's Integrated System Test, an operations rehearsal that engaged all of the teams and systems required for launch and flight, and ran through activities that will be conducted before and during launch, ascent, powered drop and flight.  

More information about LDSD is at:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/ldsd/

DC Agle
818-393-9011

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
agle@jpl.nasa.gov

2014-159

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In part 2, JPL engineer Mike Meacham explains how an inflatable decelerator will help large spacecraft land on Mars.
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LDSD
The launch tower helps link the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator test vehicle to a balloon; once the balloon floats up, the vehicle is released from the tower and the balloon carries it to high altitudes. The vehicle's rocket will take it to even higher altitudes, where the supersonic test begins.
Image Credit: 
NASA/JPL-Caltech
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[image-51]
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Page Last Updated: May 21st, 2014
Page Editor: Tony Greicius