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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  NASA Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD)

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Author Topic:   NASA Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD)
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32501
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-28-2014 05:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mars landing demonstrator passes first test flight, despite failed chute

A saucer-shaped test vehicle successfully soared over the skies of Hawaii on Saturday (June 28), achieving what NASA identified was its first flight's primary objectives despite an experimental parachute failing to deploy.

The high-altitude helium balloon carrying the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) lifted off at about 1:40 p.m. CDT (1840 GMT) from its pad at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The vehicle, which resembles a flying saucer, is designed to test landing technologies for future Mars missions.

This first of three planned LDSD flights was to determine the flying qualities of the test vehicle. As a bonus, the flight plan also included attempts at deploying two new technologies — an inflatable device and a mammoth parachute. However, those landing technologies were not officially scheduled to be tested until next summer, in two additional LDSD flights.

After liftoff, the balloon carrying the LDSD test vehicle slowly floated upward, taking several hours to reach an altitude of about 120,000 feet (36,600 meters). At that point, the balloon released the vehicle and its solid rocket motor kicked in, boosting the craft to an altitude of approximately 180,000 feet (54,900 meters).

When the craft reached its target altitude and was traveling at about Mach 4, it successfully deployed the first of the new technologies, a doughnut-shaped tube called the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD). The SIAD decelerated the vehicle to about Mach 2.5.

The LDSD test vehicle then attempted to deploy the Supersonic Disk Sail Parachute — the largest supersonic parachute ever flown — but it did not fully unfurl.

The LDSD craft impacted the Pacific Ocean about 40 minutes after being dropped from its launch balloon.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32501
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-29-2014 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory release
First LDSD Test Flight a Success

NASA representatives participated in a media teleconference this morning to discuss the June 28, 2014 near-space test flight of the agency's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), which occurred off the coast of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

A high-altitude balloon launch occurred at 8:45 a.m. HST (11:45 a.m. PDT/2:45 p.m. EDT) from the Hawaiian island facility. At 11:05 a.m. HST (2:05 p.m. PDT/5:05 p.m. EDT), the LDSD test vehicle dropped away from the balloon as planned and began powered flight. The balloon and test vehicle were about 120,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean at the time of the drop. The vehicle splashed down in the ocean at approximately 11:35 a.m. HST (2:35 p.m. PDT/5:35 p.m. EDT), after the engineering test flight concluded. The test vehicle hardware, black box data recorder and parachute were all recovered later in the day.

Above: Hours after the June 28, 2014, test of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator over the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range, the saucer-shaped test vehicle is lifted aboard the Kahana recovery vessel. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

"We are thrilled about yesterday's test," said Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "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."

This test was the first of three planned for the LDSD project, developed to evaluate new landing technologies for future Mars missions. While this initial test was designed to determine the flying ability of the vehicle, it also deployed two new landing technologies as a bonus. Those landing technologies will be officially tested in the next two flights, involving clones of the saucer-shaped vehicle.

"Because our vehicle flew so well, we had the chance to earn 'extra credit' points with the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator [SIAD]," said Ian Clark, principal investigator for LDSD at JPL. "All indications are that the SIAD deployed flawlessly, and because of that, we got the opportunity to test the second technology, the enormous supersonic parachute, which is almost a year ahead of schedule."

The Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD) is a large, doughnut-shaped first deceleration technology that deployed during the flight. The second is an enormous parachute (the Supersonic Disk Sail Parachute). Imagery downlinked in real-time from the test vehicle indicates that the parachute did not deploy as expected, and the team is still analyzing data on the parachute so that lessons learned can be applied for the next test flights, scheduled for early next year.

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.

"This entire effort was just fantastic work by the whole team and is a proud moment for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate," said Dorothy Rasco, deputy associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This flight reminds us why NASA takes on hard technical problems, and why we test - to learn and build the tools we will need for the future of space exploration. Technology drives exploration, and yesterday's flight is a perfect example of the type of technologies we are developing to explore our solar system."

NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate funds the LDSD mission, a cooperative effort led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. NASA's Technology Demonstration Mission program manages LDSD at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, coordinated support with the Pacific Missile Range Facility and provided the balloon systems for the LDSD test.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32501
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-04-2015 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA is 'GO' for second LDSD launch

NASA's Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test flight, carried aloft by a high altitude balloon, has been cleared for launch on Thursday (June 4). The balloon launch will occur no earlier than 1:30 p.m. EDT (7:30 a.m. HST or 1730 GMT).

Update: Mission managers have postponed the LDSD launch due to weather concerns. NASA will evaluate the next available opportunity, which is currently on Monday, June 8.

The balloon may take two to three hours to reach its float altitude of 120,000 feet. After the balloon reaches test altitude, the saucer-shaped LDSD test vehicle will be dropped and its powered flight will begin.

A fraction of a second after dropping from the balloon, and a few feet below it, four small rocket motors will fire up to spin stabilize the saucer.

Just over two seconds later, a Star 48B long-nozzle, solid-fueled rocket engine will kick in with 17,500 pounds of thrust, sending the test vehicle to the edge of the stratosphere, or about 180,000 feet, at a speed of Mach 4. Shortly after reaching solid rocket motor burn out, four additional small rocket motors will fire up to de-spin the saucer.

At about Mach 3, the test vehicle will deploy the supersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator (SIAD). The SIAD decelerates the vehicle to approximately Mach 2.4. The test vehicle will then deploy a large supersonic ringsail parachute, which will further slow the test vehicle to a controlled water impact landing about 40 minutes after being dropped from the balloon.

The LDSD crosscutting technology demonstration mission will test two breakthrough technologies that will enable larger payloads to be landed safely on the surface of Mars or other planetary bodies with atmospheres, including Earth.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32501
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-08-2015 08:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Go for June 8 LDSD Launch

The LDSD launch support team reported to stations tonight at 9 p.m. HST to begin preparations for a Monday, June 8, 7:30 a.m. HST (1:30 p.m. EDT) launch attempt from the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.

NASA Television and JPL's Ustream channel will carry live coverage of the launch activities beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. Launch commentary will begin 30 minutes prior to launch.

The scientific balloon will begin inflation at 6:15 a.m. HST and after launch will take about three hours to reach its float altitude of 120,000 feet. About 45 minutes after the balloon reaches test altitude, the saucer-shaped LDSD test vehicle will be dropped and its powered flight will begin.

A solid-fueled rocket engine will kick in sending the test vehicle to the edge of the stratosphere, or about 180,000 feet, at a speed of Mach 4.

At about Mach 3, the test vehicle will deploy the supersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator (SIAD). The SIAD decelerates the vehicle to approximately Mach 2.4. The test vehicle will then deploy a supersonic parachute, which will carry the test vehicle to a controlled water impact.

The LDSD crosscutting technology demonstration mission will test two braking technologies that will enable larger payloads to be landed safely on the surface of Mars or other planetary bodies with atmospheres, including Earth.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32501
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-09-2015 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA's LDSD Project Completes Second Experimental Test Flight

Engineers are poring over the data following the second experimental landing technology test of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project. The saucer-shaped LDSD craft splashed down at 11:49 a.m. HST (5:49 p.m. EDT) Monday in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

During this flight, the project team tested two decelerator technologies that could enable larger payloads to land safely on the surface of Mars, and allow access to more of the planet's surface by assisting landings at higher-altitude sites.

"Developing and demonstrating entry, descent and landing technologies such as supersonic decelerators is critical to enabling our journey to Mars," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The technologies tested on LDSD are giving us data and insight into the capabilities we'll need to land more mass than we currently can on Mars, which will enable more capable robotic missions, as well as human precursor missions to the Red Planet."

A high-altitude balloon carrying the LDSD test vehicle launched at 7:45 a.m. from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai. As planned, at 11:35 a.m., the vehicle separated from the balloon at about 120,000 feet above the ocean. An onboard rocket motor then took the vehicle to 180,000 feet, where the first braking technology, the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD), deployed at about Mach 3 at 11:37 a.m.

Fourteen seconds after SIAD inflation, the test vehicle's parachute was released into the supersonic slipstream, according to plan. Preliminary analysis of imagery and other data received during the test indicates the Supersonic Ringsail parachute deployed. This 100-foot-wide parachute is the largest supersonic parachute ever flown. It has more than double the area of the parachute used for the Mars Science Laboratory mission that carried the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars. The chute began to generate large amounts of drag and a tear appeared in the canopy at about the time it was fully inflated.

"Early indications are that we got what we came for, new and actionable data on our parachute design," said Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "At present, our data is in the form of low-resolution video and some other nuggets of data which were downlinked in real-time. But this will soon change when our test vehicle makes port, and we have the opportunity to inspect the ultra-high resolution, high-speed imagery and other comprehensive information carried in the memory cards on board our saucer."

Monday's flight test was the second for the project. During the first flight on June 28, 2014, the main goal was to demonstrate and operate the vehicle through its entire mission. That flight also carried the two LDSD braking technologies, and the SIAD worked perfectly during the first test. However, the supersonic parachute did not inflate as designed. With the data from last year's test, the LDSD team developed a new formula for this year's chute, making it stronger and more curved into its top to help it survive the initial shock of supersonic wind.

"The physics involved with LDSD is so cutting-edge we learn something profound every time we test," said Ian Clark, principal investigator for LDSD at JPL. "Going into this year's flight, I wanted to see that the parachute opened further than it did last year before it began to rupture. The limited data set we have at present indicates we may not only have gone well down the road to full inflation, but we may have achieved it.

"We also saw another successful inflation of our 20-ft SIAD and another successful deployment and inflation of our supersonic ballute (an inflatable drag device that extracts the parachute). Both of those devices have now had two great flights, and we have matured them to the point where they can be used, with confidence, on future missions," Clark added. "We're not just pushing the envelope. We flew a 7,000-pound test vehicle right through it."

NASA expects to make high-resolution imagery and comprehensive data from the test available to the public in about two weeks.

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