- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
NASA hopes to launch ‘flying saucer’ after delay
Question of the Day
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. “We’re still very optimistic about the opportunities that we think we’ll have in front of us to do this test.”
Follow Alicia Chang at http://www.twitter.com/SciWriAlicia
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Russia shipping sophisticated weapons systems to Ukraine separatists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is 'torture'
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq