An Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle heat shield material sample model undergoes preproduction aerothermal testing in Arnold Engineering Development Center's H2 test facility as part of a facility validation and calibration run. More testing is slated to occur in December. (Photo by Rick Goodfriend)
Aerospace Testing Alliance Instrumentation Technician Doyle Jones performs a continuity check on the instrumentation inside the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle heat shield material candidate model prior to a test run in Arnold Engineering Development Center's H2 test facility. (Photo by Rick Goodfriend)
In this image, two engineers are dwarfed by NASA's Mars Science Laboratory's parachute, which holds more air than a 3,000-square-foot house and is designed to survive loads in excess of 36,000 kilograms (80,000 pounds). The parachute, built by Pioneer Aerospace, South Windsor, Conn., has 80 suspension lines, measures more than 65 feet in length, and opens to a diameter of nearly 55 feet. It is the largest disk-gap-band parachute ever built and is shown here inflated in the test section with only about 12.5 feet of clearance to both the floor and ceiling of the world’s largest wind tunnel at National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex. The parachute is attached to a launch arm mounted on a swivel-base that allows the test item to pitch and yaw under simulated conditions of subsonic entry into the Martian atmosphere. (Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL and Pioneer Aerospace Corp.)
by Philip Lorenz III
Arnold Engineering Development Complex Public Affairs
8/6/2012 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. (AFNS) -- As news broke of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) "Curiosity" rover's successful landing on the "Red Planet" Aug. 6, Arnold Engineering Development Complex's (AEDC) Hypervelocity Tunnel 9 Director Dan Marren was watching the live TV broadcast of the event.
"Last night, after eight months of high-speed flight, while you slept, NASA successfully landed the rover Curiosity on Mars," Marren said. "What I find refreshing is that for our part, there is an interesting story.
"Much of the success of the "7 minutes of terror" - that most challenging part NASA refers to from re-entry to touchdown - is directly related to sub-systems AEDC helped develop and validate. A solid heat shield and a proper deceleration parachute were crucial to putting the rover down safely. What is even more rewarding to me is that our capabilities designed many years ago for the original space race and strategic systems were so useful today enabling discovery and the natural curiosity of the human race."
"Curiosity" is the most highly advanced, mobile robot with the heaviest overall payload ever sent to another planet to investigate Mars' ability, both past and present, to sustain microbial life.
AEDC's role in supporting the MSL program has included evaluating the aerothermal loading of the heat shield at the complex's Hypervelocity Tunnel 9 facility in Silver Spring, Md., and assessing thermal protection system material candidates for the MSL's heat shield at the complex's central location in Tennessee. In addition, NASA and AEDC's engineers tested the MSL's full-sized parachute in the world's largest wind tunnel at National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex (NFAC) in California.
8/15/2012 5:33:27 PM ET @SJ There may gold in them hills on that there Mars. Then we will all be rich if so bye bye deficit.
yup, ft carson
8/13/2012 5:43:14 PM ET The AF used to own NASA too P
Ticknor, Shaw AFB
8/13/2012 1:18:34 AM ET The Mars landing system was an amaizing feet of engineering. I have to say I was a bit nervous after watching the simulation of the rocket decent and skycrane operation. Good work this landing was truly a historical one.
8/12/2012 7:14:11 AM ET Must be nice to have $2.6 billion to gamble on exploration - meanwhile, the deficit and unemployment is rising by the day.
8/10/2012 7:40:44 AM ET Heheh. That's witty Matt.
8/9/2012 5:00:13 PM ET The 45th Space Wing provided launch and range support to this launch which occurred from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Brad, Patrick Air For Base
8/9/2012 2:58:49 AM ET I guess we will never know Richard. Curiosity just wandered its way into the Martian atmosphere. Its a real wonder isn't it?
8/9/2012 1:00:16 AM ET That's what is so neat about the Air Force. They don't mess this kind of once-in-a-lifetime stuff up. Top notch people just work that way. Oh and if you keep wandering like that you might get lost.
patrick, omaha NE
8/7/2012 4:37:19 PM ET Just wandering if something would have went wrong with the landing would the Air Force have been so quickly to say we had a part in this project. Sorry to be a hater just wandering.