April 10, 2014
Reporters See NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Before Testing
[ Watch the Video: Testing A Supersonic Parachute For Landing On Mars ]
On April 9 reporters got a chance to don "bunny suits" (protective apparel that sometimes makes people look like large rabbits) and enter a NASA clean room at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. In the room is NASA's latest technology for landing large payloads on planets like Mars or Earth, being processed for shipping prior to testing next June.
NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project will be flying a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle into near-space this June from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The LDSD crosscutting demonstration mission will test breakthrough technologies that will enable large payloads to be safely landed on the surface of Mars, or other planetary bodies with atmospheres, including Earth. These new technologies will not only enable landing of larger payloads on Mars, but also allow access to much more of the planet's surface by enabling landings at higher altitude sites.
The LDSD is one of several crosscutting technologies NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate is developing to create the new knowledge and capabilities necessary to enable our future missions to an asteroid, Mars and beyond. The directorate is committed to developing the critical technologies required to enable future exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit.
NASA continues to solicit the help of the best and brightest minds in academia, industry, and government to drive innovation and enable solutions in a myriad of important technology thrust areas.
These planned investments are addressing high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep-space exploration. In fact, NASA's space tech team will launch seven major technology demonstrations in next 24 months.