Purpose of the flight and payload description
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.
Details of the balloon flight
Balloon launched on: 9/3/2013
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: 644NT
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 9/3/2013
Landing site: Launch test
The test consisted in the launch of a mockup of the real LDSD gondola. After the succesful launch and release of the model from the tower, the balloon was let to ascend to 8000 feet and then terminated, landing a few miles NW of the city.