NASA Flying Saucer Test Launch Delayed

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Caroline Reid

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311 NASA Flying Saucer Test Launch Delayed
NASA flying saucer test flight preparations. NASA

NASA's flying saucer test flight, which was scheduled for June 2, has been delayed due to turbulent ocean conditions. If the waves are too high then it will become difficult for the recovery team to retrieve the craft and its data safely. Other conditions have to be perfect too: the launch team is eager to avoid high winds and stormy weather.

The upside to the delay is that if you were going to miss the launch on the 2nd then you still have the opportunity to watch it (here and here). The earliest the saucer will take to the skies is on June 4th 2015, but only if the Hawaiian surf behaves. The deadline for the craft to launch is June 12th, so hopefully the ocean will calm down for a safe test flight.


The flying saucer's actual name is pretty awesome: the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD). The entire craft, with fuel, weighs 3,088 kilograms (6,808 pounds). This flying saucer could be NASA's answer to ensuring that large payloads land safely on other planets. Often, getting gear off the ground is hard enough, but the headaches increase tenfold when you want to land something safely at the other end of a space flight. At the moment, Mars is in the saucer's sights, but if it's successful, who knows where else it might go? Maybe other alien life will have real, unexplained flying saucer sightings thanks to LDSD.

In the meantime, there's lots to get excited about, including this video of a previous test launch. It has definite mixed results.




NASA's flying saucer test from 2014

The test launch was outstandingly successful: the parachute deployment admittedly seemed a little futile as it got torn up almost immediately. However, NASA's Ian Clark is not deterred by the parachute's performance, claiming that they are "rewriting the books on high-speed parachute operations."

The Supersonic Ringsail parachute design deployed by the flying saucer. NASA

The LDSD is an ambitious leap in landing technology. The current state of deceleration technology is based on the parachutes used in the 1976 Viking Program. The same parachute design was used to help lower Curiosity onto Mars in 2012. But, as programs to Mars get heavier and more complicated we need better descent technology. 


[Via NASA]


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  • nasa,

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  • flying saucer