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Test of Mars reentry technology a qualified success
Posted: Sun, Jun 29, 2014, 9:58 AM ET (1358 GMT)
Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (NASA/JPL) NASA declared Saturday's test flight of a Mars reentry technology demonstrator a success although the vehicle's parachute failed to fully open. The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) lifted off on a balloon from the Hawaiian island of Kauai at 2:41 pm EDT (1841 GMT) Saturday, raising to an altitude of more than 35 kilometers. At 5:05 pm EDT (2105 GMT), the LDSD separated from the balloon and ignited its rocket engine, accelerating to Mach 4 and an altitude of 55 kilometers. While one of the key technologies being tested by LDSD, an inflatable ballute designed to slow the vehicle down, did appear to work, another key system, a large parachute, failed to open fully. Project officials still declared the mission a success since the primary objective for this flight was to test the technologies for getting LDSD to the desired velocities and altitudes. Two additional LDSD test flights are planned, with the next in mid-2015. NASA hopes LDSD will successfully test technologies that can eventually be used to land large spacecraft on the surface of Mars.
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