LDSD Powers Up for Drop

FullSizeRender[1]The LDSD team has started powering up the test vehicle for drop, including the GoPros, sensors and main avionics. In a few minutes, 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 to spin up and gyroscopically 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.

At about Mach 3.8, 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 mammoth supersonic ringsail parachute, which will carry the test vehicle to a controlled water impact landing about 40 minutes after being dropped from the balloon.

Author: Kim Newton

NASA's Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project will be flying a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle into near-space this June from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii. The LDSD crosscutting demonstration mission will test breakthrough technologies that will enable large payloads to be safely landed on the surface of Mars, or other planetary bodies with atmospheres, including Earth. These new technologies will not only allow for landing of larger payloads on Mars, but also provide access to much more of the planet's surface by enabling landings at higher altitude sites. The mission continues to demonstrate how technology drives exploration on our journey to Mars, as we test these tools here on Earth right now.