It’s almost impossible to keep up with all of the latest projects that the brilliant team of scientists at NASA are cooking up. NASA is, of course, one of the United States’ most sparkling federal programs and they are always pushing to keep ahead int he constant race for dominance in spacial advancement and exploration. This week it was reported that NASA would be launching a missile in order to test a supersonic parachuting system that is being developed. If that sentence doesn’t sound interesting enough then readers will be shocked to hear what the supersonic parachute system is set to be utilized for.
It was announced that NASA will be launching a special, small rocket on October 4th from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Viewers on the East Coast, if weather conditions are decent, will actually be able to watch the rocket take off. The rocket will be specifically flying from Wallops Flight Facility which is in Wallops Island, VA and the launch will start at 6:45 EDT. NASA will be streaming the rocket launch live on their own website and streaming service.
The special rocket will have on board the ASPIRE system. Not to be confused with a school acronym, ASPIRE stands for Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment. The system was designed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a facility ran by NASA in Pasadena, CA. JPL engineers have been hard at work creating the parachute system in order to prepare it for potential usage on the surface of Mars. In order to get the parachute into proper shape they had to create something that could handle high winds and the thinned atmosphere of Mars. The launch off of Wallops Island will be specifically to test how the system responds to the Earth’s upper atmosphere due to how low in density that part of our atmosphere actually is.
The rocket is 58 feet in length and called the Terrier-Black Brant IX rocket. The peak altitude of the rocket launch will be 32 miles into the air which should take close to two minutes, at least according to NASA calculations — and those tend to be pretty good. The rocket will then come down in the Atlantic Ocean some 40 miles away from Wallops Island where it will then be retrieved so that NASA scientists can inspect the system and retrieve all data and analytics that are available from the test.