On Saturday, June 28, 2014, at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, Flight 648NT, the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test was successfully completed. As the first of its kind for NASA Balloons, the test had two phases. First, the successful launch and ascent of a 1 million cubic meter balloon carrying over 3,500 kg from the newly designed and built static launch tower. The second phase of the test began after the balloon reached its designed float altitude of approximately 36 km. The LDSD Test Vehicle was then dropped from the balloon and the rocket motor ignited. The Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD) and supersonic parachute were deployed in sequence. The SIAD and parachute are being tested to enable for a “softer” landing of heavier masses on the planet Mars. Both the balloon and test vehicle were recovered successfully from the Pacific.
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