The objective of this brief flight was to perform a launch test of a mockup capsule of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test vehicle to be launched next year in Hawaii under a stratospheric balloon and after droped at 40 km of altitude to be fired in a ballistic trajectory reaching a speed of Mach 4 to simulate an actual orbital reentry operation in the thin atmosphere of Mars.
The final objective will be to demonstrate and evaluate the behaviour of two new technologies the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD) which is a inflatable Kevlar tube around the vehicle which will act as a ballute creating atmospheric drag to help to slow it down, and the Supersonic Ring-Sail (SSRS) a parachute similar to the one currently used in Mars landings but two times larger.
Balloon launched on: 8/17/2013
Launch site: Scientific Flight Balloon Facility, Fort Sumner, (NM), US
Balloon launched by: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon
Flight identification number: 641NT
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 8/17/2013
Landing site: Launch test
This first release was strictly a test of the launcher operation and to collect data on the motion of the payload at launch. After that, the balloon was allowed to ascend as planned to 4000 ft when the flight was terminated. The payload landed 3 miles NE from the airport without damage while the balloon landed nearby.
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