The Saturday balloon launch window extends from approximately 8:15 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. HST (11:15 a.m. to 12-noon PDT). The balloon will take approximately 2-3 hours to achieve float conditions. Shortly thereafter, the test vehicle will be released from the balloon and the test will begin.
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This is so awesome! NASA is testing its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), which is essentially the coolest REAL flying saucer contraption ever! This is the kind of thing you see in movies that doesn’t exist yet (for example, rocket motors that gyroscopically stabilize the saucer). The LDSD is in testing with the idea that it will be used to deliver large payloads to Mars… that’s right… to Mars!
“”We use a helium balloon—that, when fully inflated, would fit snugly into Pasadena’s Rose Bowl—to lift our vehicle to 120,000 feet,” said Mark Adler, project manager for the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “From there we drop it for about one and a half seconds. After that, it’s all about going higher and faster—and then it’s about putting on the brakes.”
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. A half second 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.”