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Heavylift Helicopter Inspires NASA's New Mars Lander Design

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posted on Nov, 29 2006 @ 09:36 PM

If NASA’s 2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) reaches the red
planet’s surface in one piece, the agency will owe a debt of
gratitude to the Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane heavy-lift helicopter.

Like its namesake, NASA’s Sky Crane carrier platform will hover
above its drop site—albeit with retrorockets rather than rotor
blades—and lower its payload, the compact car-sized MSL rover,
to the surface using a winch and tether.
As soon as the rover is ready to roll, the tether connection will
be severed and the Sky Crane will fly off and crash land a short
distance away.


That's a pretty cool idea.

I have to wonder though, could'nt they use a rotor blade system
like a helicopter instead of rockets, I mean since Martian gravity
is a considerable amount less than Earth, the weight problem
could be negligable, and by doing so they could keep the platform
and put something useful on it, like weathere sensors, or Cameras,
or some other thing.


posted on Nov, 29 2006 @ 10:45 PM
The Martian atmosphere is extremely thin though. It would be like trying to fly a helicopter up at 80,000ft here on Earth. Even for planes on Mars, you'd need something with a large wing/control surface area to get lift. Plus you'd need some sort of carbon breathing engine too for a rotor system (which is being developed but is rather under powered at the moment). So I think rockets are the only way to go for the time being.

Good link though. That heavy lift helicopter is a good reference to base a new design off of.

posted on Dec, 2 2006 @ 05:37 PM
Awesome, can almost visualize it.

Wonder why the have to crash the lifter after delivery.

Couldn't be used a base/station for the rover to relay data, clean rover, re charge post or some other scientifc station. Put a web cam on it and park it on a hill somewhere

Seems a waste of effort to get it that far and trash it.

Not complaining though.

posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 08:36 PM
There was a NASA animation of this deployment method on the Discovery channel.

It really looks nothing like a chopper..So it's hard to visualize that way.

I would say it looks more like a jetpack with 4 nozzles, one on each corner..
Partially surrounding the rover from above..almost crablike.
the only chopper related item was the winch, which reminded me more of the font of my
Pickup truck, than a chopper.

It was also very basic..I'm assuming for weight considerations.
Thats probably why they aren't going to multipurpose this crab looking jetpack device!

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