Tag Archives: LDSD

Parachute problems again for NASA’s flying saucer

In its second flight today NASA’s engineering vehicle for testing Mars landing technologies, dubbed a flying saucer by the press because of its shape, had a similar problem as in its first flight, with its parachutes failing to inflate properly during landing.

More here. This test was not only to check out landing technologies, it was to check out the redesigned parachute that had failed in the previous test last year.

Update on the LDSD partly successful test flight

Another eleven news stories were published today on the LDSD test flight (go here to find them all), but only two gave an honest and informative appraisal of the parachute failure and the program’s future. This CBS report clarified the results well with these two quotes:

The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator then fell toward impact in the Pacific Ocean northwest of Hawaii. The carrier balloon apparently came apart after the LDSD’s release and it was not immediately clear what recovery crews standing by in the landing zone might be able to retrieve.

and this:

Two more LDSD vehicles are being built for “flights of record” next summer.

Another report from Space Insider also provided this key information, something I would have expected every journalist in the world to have considered essential to their report.

Sadly, not one of the other news stories saw fit to mention that the test vehicle might have been destroyed because of the failure of the chute, nor did any of them bother to report that two more such test vehicles are under construction, allowing program to continue anyway.

That so many news stories were published on this test flight indicates the interest that exists in it. Too bad most reporters writing these stories were only interested in providing us propaganda and pro-NASA cheer-leading.

A flawed first flight for NASA’s saucer for testing Mars landing techniques.

NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), the saucer shaped system for testing new landing techniques on Mars, did its first flight today with mixed results.

A saucer-shaped NASA vehicle testing new technology for Mars landings rocketed high over the Pacific on Saturday and deployed a novel inflatable braking system, but its massive parachute failed to fully unfurl as it descended to a splashdown. Control room cheers that greeted successful steps in the complex test rapidly died as the parachute appeared to emerge tangled. “Please inform the recovery director we have bad chute,” a mission official ordered.

I have found two other stories on this test flight, one from nasaspaceflight and the second from reuters. Both the Huffington Post story above and these two fail entirely to tell us whether the test vehicle was damaged when its parachute failed to open and it hit the water. Worse, all three articles seem to ignore this significant detail in describing enthusiastically NASA’s future plans for the LDSD.

As a reader, I instead think: NASA’s future plans are not the story now. The story is whether this program can even continue.

The test of a new parachute system for Mars landing has been delayed until the end of June due to high winds.

The test of a new parachute system for Mars landing has been delayed until the end of June due to high winds.

The space agency was forced to scrub six launch attempts over the past two weeks — the latest and last planned for this Saturday (June 14) — as a result of unusually poor wind conditions at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The balloon-launched Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) craft is intended to help NASA develop the means to land heavier spacecraft, and eventually humans, on Mars.

“All of the vehicle systems [and] our team were ready and prepared for all of the launch days; we were ready to go,” said Mark Adler, LDSD project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “The only thing that held us up was that none of the launch dates had or will have acceptable weather conditions.”

They have literally run out of their available time at the range, and must let others play through first while they renegotiate for a new slot of time later.