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NASA preps 'flying saucer' for high-altitude test flight (LDSD launch)
SpaceFlightNow.com ^ | 28JUN2014 | William Harwood

Posted on 06/28/2014 11:34:56 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine

NASA engineers in Hawaii readied a 3.5-ton flying saucer-shaped test vehicle for a 23-mile-high balloon ride Saturday, followed by a rocket-powered climb an additional 11 miles for a high-speed flight through the extreme upper atmosphere to test an inflatable entry body and a huge supersonic parachute for eventual use at Mars.

The LDSD project aims to develop and test two sizes of inflatable drag devices and a large new, supersonic ringsail parachute. Credit: NASA

Flying at four times the speed of sound in the thin air near the edge of space, the test vehicle was expected to experience conditions similar to what a spacecraft would find plunging into the atmosphere of Mars prior to landing.

The heaviest spacecraft ever sent to the surface of Mars -- NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity rover -- tipped the scales at about one ton. To get heavier robots to the surface, and eventual crewed spacecraft that could weigh 20 tons or more, NASA must develop better atmospheric braking systems.

Enter the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, or LDSD, the first of at least three test vehicles to fly in a $200 million research program aimed at developing new technologies for future Mars missions.

The first test vehicle's high-altitude balloon was scheduled for launch from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, between 2:15 p.m. and 3 p.m. EDT. Initial attempts to launch the craft earlier this month were blocked by the weather, but officials said late Friday that forecasters expected acceptable conditions Saturday.

"Landing on Mars is an extremely challenging thing to do," said Ian Clark, LDSD principal investigator at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The atmosphere is extremely thin, it's about 1 percent the density of Earth's atmosphere. That means you need very large devices to react against the atmosphere to create the drag that we use to slow the vehicles down as they enter the atmosphere.

"If you want to land things that are even heavier than the Mars Science Laboratory, if you want to land several tons -- and as you cast your eyes to the horizon and you think about landing humans on the surface of Mars, missions that will be 10 to 15 tons, 20 tons or more -- you're going to need extremely large drag devices to slow those vehicles down. We don't have those currently, and that's what LDSD is developing."

The test vehicle features two new technologies. The first is an inflatable torus around a traditional heat shield known as the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or SIAD, that gives the test vehicle the general shape of a flying saucer. The second new technology is a huge parachute, the largest ever designed to deploy at more than twice the speed of sound.

NASA preps 'flying saucer' for high-altitude test flight BY WILLIAM HARWOOD STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION Posted: June 28, 2014

1

NASA engineers in Hawaii readied a 3.5-ton flying saucer-shaped test vehicle for a 23-mile-high balloon ride Saturday, followed by a rocket-powered climb an additional 11 miles for a high-speed flight through the extreme upper atmosphere to test an inflatable entry body and a huge supersonic parachute for eventual use at Mars.

Artist's concept of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator. Credit: NASA

The LDSD project aims to develop and test two sizes of inflatable drag devices and a large new, supersonic ringsail parachute. Credit: NASA

Flying at four times the speed of sound in the thin air near the edge of space, the test vehicle was expected to experience conditions similar to what a spacecraft would find plunging into the atmosphere of Mars prior to landing.

The heaviest spacecraft ever sent to the surface of Mars -- NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity rover -- tipped the scales at about one ton. To get heavier robots to the surface, and eventual crewed spacecraft that could weigh 20 tons or more, NASA must develop better atmospheric braking systems.

Enter the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, or LDSD, the first of at least three test vehicles to fly in a $200 million research program aimed at developing new technologies for future Mars missions.

The first test vehicle's high-altitude balloon was scheduled for launch from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, between 2:15 p.m. and 3 p.m. EDT. Initial attempts to launch the craft earlier this month were blocked by the weather, but officials said late Friday that forecasters expected acceptable conditions Saturday.

"Landing on Mars is an extremely challenging thing to do," said Ian Clark, LDSD principal investigator at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The atmosphere is extremely thin, it's about 1 percent the density of Earth's atmosphere. That means you need very large devices to react against the atmosphere to create the drag that we use to slow the vehicles down as they enter the atmosphere.

"If you want to land things that are even heavier than the Mars Science Laboratory, if you want to land several tons -- and as you cast your eyes to the horizon and you think about landing humans on the surface of Mars, missions that will be 10 to 15 tons, 20 tons or more -- you're going to need extremely large drag devices to slow those vehicles down. We don't have those currently, and that's what LDSD is developing."

The test vehicle features two new technologies. The first is an inflatable torus around a traditional heat shield known as the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or SIAD, that gives the test vehicle the general shape of a flying saucer. The second new technology is a huge parachute, the largest ever designed to deploy at more than twice the speed of sound.

The LDSD test flight sequence. See larger image. Credit: NASA

A giant balloon measuring 460 feet across and nearly 400 feet tall when filled with 34 million cubic feet of helium was expected to carry the LDSD vehicle to an altitude of 120,000 feet, or about 23 miles, after launch from Kauai.

At that point, the LDSD was to be released. After small rocket motors fire to spin the vehicle up for stability, an ATK Star 48 solid-fuel rocket motor was programmed to ignite to accelerate the test article and boost it an additional 11 miles to some 180,000 feet, or 34 miles.

Flying at more than four times the speed of sound, the flight plan called for the heavily instrumented SIAD torus to inflate, expanding the diameter of the entry vehicle from about 15.4 feet to 19.7 feet. After slowing to about 2.5 times the speed of sound, the parachute was expected to unfurl to a diameter of 110 feet, quickly slowing the craft even more.

"What we're trying to do is replicate the environment in which these technologies would be used," Clark said. "That means replicating the atmosphere, in particular the density of the atmosphere, which at Mars is extremely thin. To find (those conditions) we have to go halfway to the edge of space, or about 180,000 feet here on Earth, to test these devices. And we have to go several times the speed of sound."

Four Go-Pro video cameras were on board to provide realtime coverage of the SIAD inflation and parachute deploy. Video from higher resolution cameras will be stored on board and recovered after the test vehicle splashes down in the Pacific Ocean at the end of its flight.

Mission duration, from balloon launch to splashdown, was expected to be about three hours.

"This is our first experimental test flight of this vehicle that is designed to carry the SIAD and the parachute to the proper conditions very high in Earth's atmosphere and very fast so that it looks like, to these articles, that they're flying at Mars," said Mark Adler, LDSD project manager at JPL. "So we test them in those conditions at full scale to make sure they're going to work at Mars."

The SIAD torus initially was tested at the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, Calif., using a rocket sled to accelerate the device to several hundred miles per hour. To test the parachute, a long cable was connected, fed through a pulley system and attached to a rocket sled. The parachute then was released from a helicopter, the rocket sled was fired up and the parachute was pulled toward the ground with a force equivalent to about 100,000 pounds of drag.

"Our objectives for this first flight are to launch it from here, get the balloon off and out over the water, to get it up to altitude where we can drop the vehicle and conduct this powered flight and get the data back from it to see how it works," said Adler.

He stressed the test flight was just that, a test flight, and any number of things could go wrong. But "if we fire that motor and we get data back from it, that is a great day. That way we can learn exactly what happened and understand what to do for our next flights."

Two more LDSD vehicles are being built for "flights of record" next summer.

"We've been there before, eight successful landings on the surface of Mars, the United States leads in this area," said Mike Gazarik, director of space technology development at NASA Headquarters. "It's one of the more difficult challenges.

"When we look at the Curiosity rover, which landed two years ago, it's about a metric ton on the surface of Mars. We know that for exploration, for future robotic exploration, for future human exploration, we need more than that. ... And so for us, it's the challenges of Mars -- how do we get there, how do we land there, how do we live there, how do we leave there?"

The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator "focuses on that very difficult challenge of landing there."

"We need to test and we need to learn," Gazarik said. "And we need to do it quickly and efficiently. ... It's about more mass, going to more elevations on the surface of Mars and landing more accurately."


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Hawaii
KEYWORDS: launch; nasa; rocket
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"The first test vehicle's high-altitude balloon was scheduled for launch from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, between 2:15 p.m. and 3 p.m. EDT."

11:15 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. (noon) PDT.

1 posted on 06/28/2014 11:34:57 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine
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To: Jack Hydrazine

You can watch it live here:

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/live/

http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

More info here:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/ldsd/#.U68LerGSCoj

Balloon is go for launch.


2 posted on 06/28/2014 11:37:07 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

LDSD Testing for Large Payloads to Mars
http://www.nasa.gov/content/wallops/ldsd-testing-for-large-payloads-to-mars/#.U68Lq7GSCog

Fact sheet:
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/737628main_Final_LDSD_Fact_Sheet_3-26-13.pdf


3 posted on 06/28/2014 11:39:26 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

4 posted on 06/28/2014 11:39:47 AM PDT by shibumi (Cover it with gas and set it on fire.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Balloon has just launched with the LDSD in tow.


5 posted on 06/28/2014 11:40:35 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

I’ve been waiting for this thing to launch for a while now.


6 posted on 06/28/2014 11:41:21 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine; Salamander

"Back Engineered" no doubt.....

7 posted on 06/28/2014 11:41:44 AM PDT by shibumi (Cover it with gas and set it on fire.)
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To: shibumi

I never expected the Aliens Guy to show up on this thread! LOL!


8 posted on 06/28/2014 11:42:25 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

NASA | LDSD: The Great Shakeout Test For Mars [HD]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG6ymSmBjzo


9 posted on 06/28/2014 11:43:20 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine
John Carter says: john carter of Mars photo: Bring It johncarterbringit.jpg
10 posted on 06/28/2014 11:43:34 AM PDT by tumblindice (America's founding fathers: all armed conservatives)
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To: Jack Hydrazine
"Le Balloon!"


11 posted on 06/28/2014 11:44:20 AM PDT by shibumi (Cover it with gas and set it on fire.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Wonder if when this flies they’ll be a bunch of calls to the government, “I saw a UFO”.


12 posted on 06/28/2014 11:45:34 AM PDT by Beowulf9
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To: Jack Hydrazine
"Today's balloon launch window extends from approximately 8:15 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. HST (11:15 a.m. to noon PDT, 2:15 to 3 p.m. EDT). The balloon will take approximately 2-3 hours to achieve float conditions. Shortly thereafter, the test vehicle will be released from the balloon and the test will begin."
13 posted on 06/28/2014 11:50:32 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

He is ubiquitous.


14 posted on 06/28/2014 11:51:12 AM PDT by shibumi (Cover it with gas and set it on fire.)
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To: shibumi

If they ever get this saucer to land on Mars, they should name the landing site...Area 51!


15 posted on 06/28/2014 12:05:04 PM PDT by PoloSec ( Believe the Gospel: how that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again)
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To: shibumi

“Don’t take the brown LDS LSD!”


16 posted on 06/28/2014 12:05:57 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine
Shouldn't inflatable flying saucers come with inflatable aliens?


17 posted on 06/28/2014 12:15:28 PM PDT by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Audio is choppy.


18 posted on 06/28/2014 12:19:16 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
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To: BenLurkin

Red Rope Licorice for me.


19 posted on 06/28/2014 12:20:52 PM PDT by shibumi (Cover it with gas and set it on fire.)
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To: Telepathic Intruder; Jack Hydrazine
Hoping the return doesn't bring back any unexpected passengers.


20 posted on 06/28/2014 12:22:36 PM PDT by deoetdoctrinae (Gun-free zones are playgrounds for felons.)
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To: deoetdoctrinae; a fool in paradise
Harry turns back on his broom and says "That was a close one wasn't it, Ron... Ron...? Ron, where are you?"


21 posted on 06/28/2014 12:27:42 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: Beowulf9
== they’ll be a bunch of calls to the government, “I saw a UFO”. ==

UFO? You might be on to something.


22 posted on 06/28/2014 12:39:13 PM PDT by QT3.14 (Tagline space for sale)
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To: deoetdoctrinae

Joey, you ever rode on the hood of an airplane before?


23 posted on 06/28/2014 12:40:39 PM PDT by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: QT3.14

Is that CNN?


24 posted on 06/28/2014 12:53:49 PM PDT by F15Eagle (1Jn4:15;5:4-5,11-13;Mt27:50-54;Mk15:33-34;Jn3:17-18,6:69,11:25,14:6,20:31;Ro10:8-11;1Tm2:5-6;Ti3:4-7)
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To: GeronL

LOL!


25 posted on 06/28/2014 1:10:39 PM PDT by deoetdoctrinae (Gun-free zones are playgrounds for felons.)
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To: Telepathic Intruder
Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?


26 posted on 06/28/2014 1:13:24 PM PDT by deoetdoctrinae (Gun-free zones are playgrounds for felons.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Got a way to go. Looks like its at about 85,000 feet.


27 posted on 06/28/2014 1:15:35 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
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To: GeronL

"Si...it was a fly'g soo-sar!"

28 posted on 06/28/2014 1:20:36 PM PDT by RckyRaCoCo (Shall Not Be Infringed)
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To: cripplecreek

Launch should be within about 30 minutes.


29 posted on 06/28/2014 1:22:05 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: cripplecreek

Vehicle power up in two minutes.


30 posted on 06/28/2014 1:22:44 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

The rocket is to take it to a higher altitude?


31 posted on 06/28/2014 1:26:09 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
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To: cripplecreek

32 posted on 06/28/2014 1:31:52 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Its at almost 100,000 feet now.


33 posted on 06/28/2014 1:33:26 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
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To: cripplecreek

Where are you seeing that?


34 posted on 06/28/2014 1:36:58 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

I’m seeing mission control right now.


35 posted on 06/28/2014 1:40:12 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
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To: cripplecreek

Found it.


36 posted on 06/28/2014 1:41:51 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: All

Looks like launch will be about 2:05 p.m. PDT/5:05 p.m. EDT.


37 posted on 06/28/2014 1:43:05 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: cripplecreek

It is at 110,000 feet now.


38 posted on 06/28/2014 1:46:15 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Just saw the winds ups there. It’s moving along at about 50 knots at 112000 ft!


39 posted on 06/28/2014 1:50:13 PM PDT by deoetdoctrinae (Gun-free zones are playgrounds for felons.)
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To: deoetdoctrinae

That’s pretty slow. They move at around 150 knots in the winter.


40 posted on 06/28/2014 1:53:12 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: deoetdoctrinae

They are go for drop.


41 posted on 06/28/2014 1:53:46 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine
Wow! Didn't realize that.

A Mach 4 flying saucer is going to be a new one for NASA. I have my fingers crossed.

42 posted on 06/28/2014 1:55:11 PM PDT by deoetdoctrinae (Gun-free zones are playgrounds for felons.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

In case you wanted to know what a Star 48 rocket motor is that is being utilized by the LDSD.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_48


43 posted on 06/28/2014 1:55:24 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: deoetdoctrinae

Yeppers! Mach 4 or 3040 mph (depending on air temperature).


44 posted on 06/28/2014 1:56:48 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Almost 118,000 feet altitude.


45 posted on 06/28/2014 1:58:20 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

They have permission to drop and fire.


46 posted on 06/28/2014 2:02:31 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Ready to drop.


47 posted on 06/28/2014 2:03:24 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Here we go!


48 posted on 06/28/2014 2:03:44 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Dropping now!


49 posted on 06/28/2014 2:04:16 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Ignition!

All spin motors fired.

Mach 1...


50 posted on 06/28/2014 2:04:49 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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