Press Release

NASA June 2 Kauai Media Day for First Supersonic Saucer-Shaped Vehicle Test

By SpaceRef Editor
May 15, 2014
Filed under

Reporters are invited to a media day Monday, June 2, at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii, to learn about NASA’s upcoming flight test of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) experiment.

NASA’s LDSD test is designed to investigate breakthrough technologies that will benefit landing future human and robotic Mars missions, as well as aid in safely returning large payloads to Earth. The NASA LDSD test over the Pacific Ocean will simulate the entry, descent and landing speeds a spacecraft would be exposed to when flying through the Martian atmosphere. During the test, a large saucer-shaped disk carrying an inflatable inner-tube-shaped decelerator and parachute system will be carried to an altitude of 120,000 feet (37 kilometers) by a giant balloon. After release from the balloon, rockets will lift the disk to 180,000 feet (55 kilometers) while reaching supersonic speeds. Traveling at 3.5 times the speed of sound, the saucer’s decelerator will inflate, slowing the vehicle, and then a parachute will deploy to carry it to the ocean’s surface. 

The media day will start with a mission overview briefing at 8 a.m. HST. Briefing participants will include:

— Capt. Bruce Hay USN, commanding officer, Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii

— Michael Gazarik, associate administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington

— Mark Adler, LDSD project manager, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

— Ian Clark, LDSD principal investigator, JPL

The briefing will be streamed live on the agency’s website at:

It will also be carried live on:

Journalists unable to attend the briefing in person will be able to participate by teleconference. After the briefing, reporters at PMRF will have the opportunity for a tour of the launch area, the Range Operations Center, and a driving tour of the facility. 

NASA has six potential dates for launch of the high-altitude balloon carrying the LDSD experiment: June 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13. The launch window for each date extends from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. HST.

Journalists are invited to PMRF to watch the launch of the balloon carrying LDSD on launch attempt days. After the balloon launch, reporters will be able to watch events as they unfold from monitors in the LDSD media center at PMRF. Reporters must arrive each launch-attempt day by no later than by 5:45 a.m. for escort onto the base.

NASA’s LDSD carries several onboard cameras. It is expected that video of selected portions of the test, including the rocket-powered ascent, will be downlinked and streamed live to several NASA websites, including:


Decisions to attempt launch of the LDSD test will be made the day before each launch opportunity date. NASA will issue launch advisories via social media — @NASA_Technology and @NASA – as well as the mission website and news media advisories. 

Journalists who would like to cover LDSD-related events and tour the facility at PMRF must register in advance by contacting Elena Mejia at JPL Media Relations at 818-354-5011 Foreign journalists/news organizations must register by Thursday, May 22. U.S. media representatives must register by Wednesday, May 28. Reporters who are unsure whether they will attend are encouraged to register by the deadlines, even if they must later cancel. NASA will provide detailed instructions to journalists who register.

For more information about NASA’s LDSD, visit the mission page at:

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. For more information about NASA’s investment in space technology, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.