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NASA's Test Bed For Mars Chute: Kauai 40

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-like-a-fun-ride dept.
An Associated Press story, as carried by the Philadelphia Inquirer, says that NASA plans to test this Tuesday on the Hawaiian island of Kauai a huge (110' diameter) parachute intended as a means to land big loads (like astronauts) on the surface of Mars. Says the story: "The skies off the Hawaiian island of Kauai will be a stand-in for Mars as NASA prepares to launch a saucer-shaped vehicle in an experimental flight designed to land heavy loads on the red planet. For decades, robotic landers and rovers have hitched a ride to Earth's planetary neighbor using the same parachute design. But NASA needs a bigger and stronger parachute if it wants to send astronauts there. ... During the flight, a high-flying balloon will loft the disc-shaped vehicle from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai to 23 miles over the Pacific where it will be dropped. Then it will fire its rocket motor to climb to 34 miles, accelerating to Mach 4. The environment at this altitude is similar to Mars' thin atmosphere. As it descends to Earth, a tube around the vehicle should inflate, slowing it down. Then the parachute should pop out, guiding the vehicle to a gentle splashdown in the Pacific."
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NASA's Test Bed For Mars Chute: Kauai

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  • by mbone (558574) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @11:22PM (#47144825)

    The PMRF at Barking Sands in Kauai is a very well instrumented range that is set up to observe navy exercises in the waters off Kauai, things flying overhead (such as missiles launched in California), and things launched on the beach at Barking Sands (such as this test), so it is not surprising to me that this test is being run there. There is a long history of NASA - Navy collaboration there - back in the shuttle days, the GSTDN station at Kokee Park (a NASA outpost in a PMRF enclave up Waimea Canyon above the beach) would routinely track shuttles coming in for reentry in California, and there is now a Navy VLBI antenna operated by NASA contractors there.

    By the way, it is called Barking Sands because pebbles on the beach make a sound something like seals barking when waves hit them.

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