The vehicle, formally known as the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD),is 4.5 meters wide and weighs more than three tons. Its two-section braking mechanism embodies a doughnut-shaped inflatable braking shield and a huge parachute. The inflatable brake shield, dubbed the supersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator (SIAD-R), is intended to unfold and blow up to build a space apparatus’ size and atmospheric pull.
Following a slow down under the brake shield, the spacecraft is programmed to convey the 33.5-meter wide Supersonic Ring Sail Parachute, the biggest parachute ever flown. The innovation is not only intended to empower substantial payloads to arrive on the surface of Mars, but also to permit landings at higher-elevation destinations, providing access to substantially more of the planet’s surface.
So far, the one ton Curiosity rover has been the heaviest vehicle to arrive on Mars, involving a complex landing framework including a supersonic parachute and a “sky crane” which brought down the vehicle to the Martian surface. Present Mars landing methods date back to NASA’s Viking mission, which placed twin landers on Mars in 1976.
NASA intends to land considerably greater payloads, including vehicles, freight, humans and human housing. Consequently, the agency is designing the innovation for a landing protocol which can unload up to 40,000 kg on the surface of planets.
NASA plans to make use of atmospheric drag in an attempt to spare rocket motors and fuel. Such payloads will need much bigger drag mechanisms to slow them down and those devices will have to be conveyed at higher supersonic velocities to land securely.
The LDSD had its first experimental run in June 2014 when its was dropped from a vast helium inflatable at 120,000 ft. The vehicle then started its rocket engine, moving it to 180,000 ft.
During the landing the vehicle’s doughnut-shaped braking shield managed to slow it down but the gigantic parachute did not open properly prompting the vehicle to crash in the Ocean. The following experimental run is to be streamed live on March 31, from 19 am to 10 am PDT.
During the telecast, LDSD supervisors will be answering questions from the public, while LDSD will experience a “spin-table” test in for shipment to Hawaii, where it will be taken into nears space from the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai in June. Testing will go on in 2015, with potential dispatch to Mars in 2020 the earliest.
Image Source: NASA