This vehicle was used to test the parachute NASA planned to use
to "soft land" the Viking on Mars. To simulate the thin Martian
atmosphere the parachute needed to be used at an altitude more than
160,000 feet above the earth. A balloon launched from Roswell, N.M.
was used to initially lift the aeroshell. The balloon drifted west
to the missile range where the vehicle was dropped and the engines
beneath the vehicle boosted it to the required altitude where the
parachute was deployed. The tests were conducted in the summer of