The payload of the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) 2 is tested in the payload facility of the NASA Wallops Flying Facility in Virginia using the Launchpad for a planned 27. March 201
Credit: Berit Bland / NASA
NASA will again test the supersonic parachute on Thursday morning (March 29) for its next Mars rover, and you can follow the action live.
A Sounding Rocket The Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Experiment (ASPIRE) will be launched on Tuesday between 6:45 am and 10:15 am EDT (10:45 am to 2:15 pm GMT) by the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. You can watch it live here on Space.com courtesy of NASA TV Wallops.
The launch is unlikely to be visible to anyone outside the immediate Wallops area, NASA officials said.
If all goes according to plan The 18-foot-tall Terrier Black Brant IX rocket will outpace ASPIRE to a maximum height of approximately 52 kilometers, where the conditions in the Earth's atmosphere resemble those of the thin air of Mars.
The parachute will unfold shortly thereafter, while ASPIRE drives faster than the speed of sound and high-speed cameras record the whole thing. ASPIRE will eventually spray in the Atlantic Ocean about 65 kilometers off the coast of Virginia, where it will be brought back by boat, NASA officials said in a statement.
Engineers will study the slide, the video, and a host of other data to determine how ASPIRE was performed. Their conclusions will determine the ultimate design of the supersonic parachute, which will help land the NASA 2020 Mars Rover safely on the Red Planet, NASA officials said.
The car-sized vehicle, heavily based on the agency's Curiosity Mars Rover, is set to stir in 2021 to find signs of past life on the Red Planet.
This will be ASPIRE's second test flight. The first came in October 2017 and also employed a terrier Black Brant IX, who took off from Wallops. During this flight, the parachute unfolded at a height of 42 kilometers, while the ASPIRE payload ran at 1.8 times the speed of sound.
Editor's note: NASA postponed the launch of the ASPIRE parachute test until Thursday, March 29 at the earliest, because of the rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean recreation area. This story has been updated with this new start target.