NASA Rocket Launches ASPIRE, a Supersonic Mars Parachute

A supersonic parachute specifically tailored to land NASA spacecraft in the future just recently launched in space by the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment. 

It was on March 31 from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility. The launch became successful after a few days of delays because of the rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean. If the launch became a success, ASPIRE will have an altitude of 32 miles. Shortly, the parachute unfurled. On the other hand, ASPIRE was traveling faster than the speed sound. 

The main goal of the test is to mimic all conditions that a specific satellite would encounter during a situation of a Red planet entry as well as landing. Since the Martian atmosphere is 1% dense as the Earth, ASPIRE went up high.

After liftoff, the satellite splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean where it will be soon retrieved by boat. All gathered data by instruments like the camera will be of great help to researchers. Aside from that, the rigging will help the experts complete the chute for the NASA’s Mars rover that will be launched by 2020 according to the agency’s officials. 

Two years from now, the rover is planned to launch. It is on a mission to identify potential marks of earliest life on Mars, also known as the Red Planet. The spacecraft is a 6-wheeled vehicle which body is similar to the Curiosity Mars rover that will be launched this month. Apart from hunting signs of life, it will examine rocks as well as a cache a variety of samples. 

The rover for 2020 will utilize similar broad EDL technique in Curiosity. It will have a supersonic chute for the Martian air, and a sky crane for the red dirt on a range of cables. 

Originally, the flight was scheduled to last March 27. But it was postponed because the seas were expected to be severe on that day. So, it was launched on March 31 for a stress-free and easy parachute-recovery operations. 

At present, ASPIRE has two test flights. The first one happened in October last year. Like the launch this 2018, it likewise aboard a Terrier-Black Brant IX, which was specifically launched from Wallops. Earlier than expected, the chute was unfurled at 26 miles altitude. When it comes to the present one, it traveled at 1.8 times the promptness sound, according to the agency’s officials.