LDSD: 'The Boy From Earth'
July 8, 2014
At the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project team awaits their next possible launch window. When conditions are viable, the rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle carrying an inflatable inner tube-shaped decelerator and parachute system will be carried to an altitude of 120,000 feet by a giant balloon. After release from the balloon, rockets will lift the disk to 180,000 feet while reaching supersonic speeds. Traveling at 3.5 times the speed of sound, the saucer's decelerator will inflate, slowing the vehicle down, and then a parachute will deploy to carry it to the ocean's surface. As per local tradition, the test vehicle was blessed by native Hawaiian, "Uncle" Tom Takahashi, who dubbed it, "Keiki o ka honua," or "boy from Earth." The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Project is managed by JPL for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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