Will the third time be the charm for NASA?
The U.S. space agency plans to finally fly its rocket-powered, saucer-shaped landing technology test vehicle — called the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) — into near-space from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai later this week.
NASA has identified five potential launch dates for the high-altitude balloon carrying the LDSD experiment: Saturday, June 28; Sunday, June 29; Monday, June 30; Tuesday, July 1; and Thursday, July 3.
The launch window for Saturday extends from 8:15-9:30 a.m. Hawaii time.
The vehicle originally was scheduled for its first test flight in late May, but unacceptable weather conditions twice prevented the launch.
The vehicle is attached to a balloon, and after the balloon reaches an altitude of 120,000 feet, the rocket-powered test vehicle will be dropped. Seconds later, its motor will fire, carrying it to 180,000 feet and as fast as about Mach 3.8.
The LDSD carries several onboard cameras.
Decisions to attempt launch of the LDSD test will be made the day before each launch opportunity date.
NASA will stream live video of the test via UStream.
More information about the LDSD space technology demonstration mission is online at http://go.usa.gov/kzZQ.