NASA did not conduct the flight test of the agency's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range in Kauai, Hawaii, during its designated launch period. The project's reserved time at the range will expire Saturday, June 14, with NASA unable to fly the test because of continuing unfavorable weather conditions.
Mark Adler, the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project manager and Ian Clark, principal investigator on the project, both from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, participated in a media teleconference this morning and addressed questions on the project.
"There were six total opportunities to test the vehicle, and the delay of all six opportunities was caused by weather," said Adler. "We needed the mid-level winds between 15,000 and 60,000 feet to take the balloon away from the island. While there were a few days that were very close, none of the days had the proper wind conditions."
The team had researched for more than two years wind conditions and locations around the world that would be conducive to the test. Kauai was selected because research showed that this area had the proper wind conditions to carry the balloon away from populated areas and where it needed to go over the ocean in order to launch the test vehicle. Recent weather conditions have been unexpected and have caused unacceptable wind conditions to launch the balloon.
NASA continues to look at options for a future launch window. The team is working with the Pacific Missile Range Facility and looking at weather conditions predicted for later in the month when another launch window could be possible.
"Our team has been working on this project for several years, and we have been so focused," said Clark. "We came here to do our job and get this vehicle off the ground, but unfortunately weather didn't allow us to do this. We are very optimistic and are hoping to test the vehicle at the end of the month."
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NASA's LDSD program is part of the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA's future missions.
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NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington funds the LDSD mission, a cooperative effort led by JPL. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages LDSD within the Technology Demonstration Mission Program Office. NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is coordinating support with the Pacific Missile Range Facility and providing the balloon systems for the LDSD test.