Tags: nasa | flying | saucer | mars

NASA Flying Saucer Test Went 'Beautifully' Minus Small Parachute Snafu

Image: NASA Flying Saucer Test Went 'Beautifully' Minus Small Parachute Snafu
An undated handout artists concept made available by NASA on 29 June 2014 showing the test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), designed to test landing technologies for future Mars missions.

By    |   Monday, 30 Jun 2014 07:33 AM

NASA's new "flying saucer," created to test new technologies that could eventually lead to the landing of heavy supplies and potentially humans on Mars in the future, operated "beautifully" over the Pacific Ocean Saturday, according to agency scientists.

The flying saucer, called the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), was taken up to 120,000 feet via balloon Saturday afternoon, according to CNN. The ship, which took off from the coast of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, then went to 180,000 feet under its own power with rockets before a donut-shaped tube inflated for its deceleration from space.

The only thing that went wrong, according to NASA, was that a large parachute meant to deploy as the ship headed toward its Pacific Ocean landing did not.

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"We are thrilled about yesterday's test," Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement released by the agency on Sunday. "The test vehicle worked beautifully, and we met all of our flight objectives. We have recovered all the vehicle hardware and data recorders and will be able to apply all of the lessons learned from this information to our future flights."

The environment at 180,000 feet is similar to the thin Martian atmosphere and researchers told The Associated Press that being able to slow down its space vehicles from its Mach 4 space speed will be a key in safely landing humans on the Red Planet one day.

NASA engineer Dan Coatta said to the AP that the parachute problem was a way to learn more before additional tests.

"In a way, that's a more valuable experience for us than if everything had gone exactly according to plan," Coatta told the AP.

NASA said that the test was the first of three it will conduct to examine new landing technology for upcoming missions to Mars. Saturday's test also judged the flying ability of the saucer, which excited scientists.

"Because our vehicle flew so well, we had the chance to earn 'extra credit' points with the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator," Ian Clark, principal investigator for the LDSD project, said in a statement. "All indications are that the SIAD deployed flawlessly, and because of that, we got the opportunity to test the second technology, the enormous supersonic parachute, which is almost a year ahead of schedule."

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NASA's new "flying saucer," created to test new technologies that could eventually lead to the landing of heavy supplies and potentially humans on Mars in the future, operated "beautifully" over the Pacific Ocean Saturday, according to agency scientists.
nasa, flying, saucer, mars
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2014-33-30
Monday, 30 Jun 2014 07:33 AM
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