Purpose of the flight and payload description

The objective of the flight was to transport to the stratosphere over open ocean, a saucer-shaped vehicle denominated LDSD TV-2 (Test Vehicle 2) to be droped and later by mean of a rocket to be fired in a ballistic trajectory reaching a speed of Mach 4 (four times the speed of sound) to simulate an actual orbital reentry operation in the thin atmosphere of Mars.

The final objective was 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.

Video of balloon inflation, launch and distant drop of the test vehicle

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 6/8/2015 at 17:44 utc
Launch site: Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii, US  
Balloon launched by: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Raven Aerostar - 39.570.000 cuft
Flight identification number: 663NT
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 6/8/2015 at 21:35 utc
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 3 h 50 m
Landing site: Over the Pacific Ocean, W of Kauai, Hawaii

The launch of the balloon and the drop and firing of the test vehicle was performed succesfully but during the deployment of the parachute it collapsed.

In all, as the flight was aimed to perform and engineering test of a new device, it could be considered a very satisfactory test that allowed to trace and to correct imperfections in the design of the parachute.

External references

Images of the mission

  NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator test vehicle attached to launch tower just prior to take off     Two members of the U.S. Navy's Mobile Diving Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 Explosive Ordnance Detachment work on recovering the test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project.

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