back to article NASA preps flying saucer ballocket flight

NASA has announced it's poised to do an airborne test of its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) - a test platform for technologies that may one day safely deposit larger payloads on the surface of Mars. The LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pic: NASA/JPL The LDSD flying saucer at NASA's Jet Propulsion …


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  1. Elmer Phud

    Bound to fail

    Not a single mention of a brave Playmonaut!

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Bound to fail

      Exactly. NASA is missing a vital mission component here.

  2. Elmer Phud

    and anyway . . .

    . . . I keep reading it as LSD

  3. Kevin Johnston


    Watch out El Reg...the headhunters could soon be circling the SPB

    1. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: Hmmm

      SPB's hoping for a buyout.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        Well that isn't going to happen. If they want to be bought out they should develop a simple messenger app backed on to, I don't know, a website where you can make playmobil reconstructions, and market it as the next big thing to 15 year-olds wanting to send pictures of their naughty bits to one another.

        They'll never get there experimenting with novel technologies. It just gets in the way, you know?

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          A website where you can make playmobil reconstructions

          sounds pretty damn good. O, the joys of being fifteen again.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "SPB's hoping for a buyout."

        They already tried an accidental flotation but it sunk with all hands.

  4. Return To Sender


    So, these inflatey bubble things; once they've splashed down, and assuming it was used for a manned flight, does that mean the 'nauts then get to walk the bubble back to base? I just can't get the picture out of my head...

  5. mccp


    Surely it's a Rockoon?

    Working on the definition that a Ballocket is first balloon-like on the way up followed by rocket-assisted ascent, rather than rocket-assisted ascent followed by balloon-assisted descent?

    I'll get my coat.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Ballocket???

      Not so, sir, and by your own reckoning: balloon, followed by rocket = ballocket. Sounds better, anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ballocket???

        Balloon ascent, rocket ascent, balloon descent

        Isn't that a Ballocketoon?

        1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: Ballocket???

          You've got confused here - the NASA thing is a ballockechute.

          1. HeyYou

            Re: Ballocket???

            I will meet you half-way, Ballocketute - sounds better

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ballocket???


    2. Bluewhelk
      Thumb Up

      Re: Ballocket???

      Given the flight sequence perhaps that should be a Ballockoonshute .....splash

  6. Dr Who

    Inflatable balloon that goes like a rocket, but with high endurance, and delivers a large payload at the end of it all. Hmmm.

  7. frank ly

    I watched the video

    I'd like to have my time over again and be a NASA engineer. It looks like FUN!! (Then again, I'd probably be on the team that analyses the results and prepares spreadsheets and graphs for middle management meetings; then have to double check and justify the budget projection figures. Reality has always bitten me.)

  8. Scroticus Canis

    Mach in Earth's or Mars' atmospheres?

    Would that be the speed of sound in our or Mars' atmosphere? Mach speeds vary by height (pressure and temperature) so how fast in metres per sec are we talking? What is Mach 1 at sea level on Mars? OK ground level will do :)

    1. Hurn

      Re: Mach in Earth's or Mars' atmospheres?

      "Sea Level" on Mars is known as "0 datum" or "topographic datum".

      Since multiple disciplines are involved, there's another name: areoid.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Time for some Latin

      Hey, 'Scroticus Canis' - you're the 'dog's Ballockets', aren't you!

    3. Malc

      Re: Mach in Earth's or Mars' atmospheres?

      Having asked this question before, I've found answers:

      Hope that helps :-)

  9. TWB

    Supersonic parachutes?

    Don't weird things happen at supersonic speeds - a parachute might make it fall faster!

    (I'd add an appropriate icon if I was allowed....)

    1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      Re: Supersonic parachutes?

      Indeed they do, hence the shape that is reminiscent of the old Apollo heat shield.

      The tricky part is slowing it down to a rather pedestrian mach 2ish, for coming in around mach 20+ is an energetic event.

  10. Palf

    I get the LSD bit...

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Does this not infringe on some LOHAN patent or other?

    You must sue, its the responsible thing to do.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Patents...

      Agreed. It would be churlish not to, really.

  12. Stephen 24


    So they're going for the launch of the rocket "after release" - how will they get it to point up? (presumably without the use of a fantastical flying truss(tm))

    How much does a rocket that can go from 120000ft to 180000ft, can travel at mach 3.5 and carry an inflatable decelerato saucer weigh? How big a balloon will that need??

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