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NASA Releases Footage of "Flying Saucer" Braking Test, Declares Success 55

According to the AP, in a story carried by the San Jose Mercury News, NASA engineers insisted Friday that a test of a vehicle they hope to one day use on Mars achieved most of its objectives, despite a parachute that virtually disintegrated the moment it deployed. The engineers laid out at a news conference what they've learned in the six weeks since the $150 million high-altitude test of a vehicle that's designed to bring spacecraft -- and eventually astronauts -- safely to Mars. Engineers said they achieved the main objective: getting a flying saucer-shaped craft to 190,000 feet above the Earth at more than four times the speed of sound under test conditions that matched the Martian atmosphere. Ars Technica has (beautiful, high-speed, high-definition) video of the test that shows the parachute tearing itself apart, as well as the many parts that went as planned.
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NASA Releases Footage of "Flying Saucer" Braking Test, Declares Success

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @09:57PM (#47639983)

    Nobody had ever tested a big parachute at supersonic speeds at "high-altitude-on-mars-like" atmospheric density (that's why it was done at 180,000 ft..). There's been a huge number of questions about how these things deploy (or not, as the video shows), and since there aren't any wind tunnels around that run at 1 torr at supersonic speeds.. Gotta do the test.

    This is also why the new capsule designs (Orion, MPCV, etc.) look like Mercury/Gemini/Apollo... they did (really expensive) testing of various body shapes back in the 60s, and everyone wants to use the same data today.

    There are modeling codes for the capsule kind of application..although.. you're trusting in a model of a fairly non-linear and poorly understood problem.. hypersonic flow.. you're well beyond using Bernoulli here.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith