Saturday, April 17, 2010
"NASA's Planetary Entry Parachute Program (PEPP) aeroshell, tested in 1966, was created to test parachutes for the Voyager Mars landing program [later changed to Viking]. To simulate the thin Martian atmosphere, the parachute needed to be used at an altitude more than 160,000 feet above the earth. A balloon launched from Roswell, New Mexico was used to initially lift the aeroshell. The balloon then drifted west to the White Sands Missile Range, where the vehicle was dropped and the engines beneath the vehicle boosted it to the required altitude, where the parachute was deployed."
There was a post last year about this at TORD.
Additional info at Gunter's space page.
There is even a modification to an Art Applewhite Kit at EMRR's.
I have recently come across videos of PEPP tests on Youtube. They are pretty wild:
These tests are operating in near space, above 100,000 feet. Two of the videos look almost identical, but this probably makes sense because they use the same timing in each. The clouds are different, and while one is a supplement to 1499-B X2231 sub paragraph D, the other is for 1500-B X2231 sub paragraph C! (Joke.)
Mars is a great place to explore because it has an atmosphere that can save a ton of fuel when slowing things down. Under many scenarios, it takes less rocket powered Delta V to land on Mars than on the Moon! (However, the great distance makes Mars trips still considerably harder because of the amount of life support, food, and fuel needed for manned missions.)
There are some nice pictures of this project, not to mention many other very interesting and strange projects, over at IFO.