EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

June 13, 2014

NASA hopes to launch 'flying saucer' after delay

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA hopes to try again to launch a “flying saucer” into Earth’s atmosphere to test Mars mission technology after losing the chance because of bad weather, project managers said Thursday.

The space agency is working with the U.S. Navy on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to see if it can get the experimental flight off the ground in late June.

During the current two-week launch window, the team came “tantalizingly close,” but winds spoiled every opportunity, said project manager Mark Adler of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Winds must be calm for a helium balloon to carry the disc-shaped vehicle over the Pacific so it doesn’t stray into no-fly zones.

“We’re ready to go. We’re not giving up,” Adler said.

NASA has invested $150 million in the project so far, and extending the launch window would come with some cost. If the flight doesn’t happen this summer, it would be postponed until next year.

The mission is designed to test a new supersonic vehicle and giant parachute in Earth’s stratosphere where conditions are similar to the red planet.

For decades, NASA relied on the same parachute design to slow spacecraft streaking through the thin Martian atmosphere. The 1-ton Curiosity rover that landed in 2012 used the same basic parachute as the twin Viking landers in 1976.

With plans to land heavier payloads and eventually astronauts, NASA needed to develop new drag devices and a stronger parachute.

Measuring 110 feet in diameter, the new parachute is twice as large as the one that carried Curiosity. Since it can’t fit in a wind tunnel where NASA does its traditional testing, engineers looked toward the skies off Kauai.

NASA had rigged the test vehicle with several GoPro cameras with the hope that viewers would follow the action live online.

Project scientist Ian Clark called the weather delay “hardly even a hiccup” in the long road to landing spacecraft on Earth’s planetary neighbor.

“We’re still very enthusiastic,” Clark said.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel David Perdue Wins Georgia GOP Senate Runoff 98-Year-Old Woman Left in Parked Truck Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire Flight to Tel Aviv From US Diverted to Paris AP Review: Amazon Fire Adds Spark to Smartphones Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban
Latest World News
Today in History for July 24th Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Raw: Rescue Workers at Taiwan Plane Crash Site Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Bodies of Malaysia Jet Victims Leave Ukraine Fighting Rages Amid Mideast Truce Push Raw: Secretary of State Kerry in Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Raw: Typhoon Brings Heavy Wind, Rain to Taiwan Today in History for July 23rd Flight to Tel Aviv From US Diverted to Paris Raw: Massive Explosion in Gaza City Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City
Photos of the Week