First LDSD Test Flight a Success

A high-altitude balloon launch occurred at 8:45 a.m. HST (11:45 a.m. PDT/2:45 p.m. EDT) on June 28, 2014 with the near-space test flight of the agency's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD). At 11:05 a.m. HST (2:05 p.m. PDT/5:05 p.m. EDT), the LDSD test vehicle dropped away from the balloon as planned and began powered flight. The balloon and test vehicle were about 120,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean at the time of the drop. The vehicle splashed down in the ocean at approximately 11:35 a.m. HST (2:35 p.m. PDT/5:35 p.m. EDT), after the engineering test flight concluded. The test vehicle hardware, black box data recorder and parachute were all recovered later in the day.

This test was the first of three planned for the LDSD project, developed to evaluate new landing technologies for future Mars missions. While this initial test was designed to determine the flying ability of the vehicle, it also deployed two new landing technologies as a bonus. Those landing technologies will be officially tested in the next two flights, involving clones of the saucer-shaped vehicle.

Seen here is the saucer-shaped test vehicle being lifted aboard the Kahana recovery vessel, hours after the June 28, 2014 test of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator over the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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