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"Marsplane" glider completes successful test flight
Posted: Wed, Aug 15, 2001, 10:59 AM ET (1459 GMT)
Orville Mars glider prototype A glider that is a prototype of a future Mars aircraft made a successful test flight last week in Oregon, NASA officials announced this week. The glider, named "Orville" after one of the Wright Brothers, was dropped August 9 from a balloon at an altitude of 31,400 meters, where the air pressure is similar to that on Mars. After initially dropping a few thousand meters, Orville leveled off and glided to a smooth landing at the Tillamook, Oregon airport. The glider was designed to be similar to proposals for aircraft that would fly over the Martian terrain, taking very high-resolution images and looking for evidence of water. Future versions of the aircraft under development will feature folding wings so it can fit into a small space in a spacecraft, and later a propeller propulsion system.
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