NASA flying saucer set to take off


National Aeronautics and Space Administration is prepared to launch a test flight of its latest prototype Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), commonly being referred to as a ‘flying saucer’ on Wednesday.

‘High in Earth’s stratosphere, NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator mission will test new, full-scale parachutes and drag devices at supersonic speeds to refine them for future use at Mars. Testing will be conducted through 2016,’ read a statement in NASA’s LDSD official press kit. It has also been noted that three new drag devices are being developed by the LDSD project: 100-foot (30-meter) Supersonic Ringsail (SSRS) Parachute, 20-foot (6-meter) Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD-R), and 26 foot (8-meter) SIAD-E.


In the test flight, the LDSD would be carried off by a weather balloon to an altitude of 120,000 feet over two hours. With cameras mounted on the vehicle, the world would be able to see live images of Pacific ocean from high over.

Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told a news agency, “This year’s test is centred on how our newly-designed supersonic parachute will perform. We think we have a great design ready for the challenge, but the proof is in the pudding and the pudding will be made live for everyone to see.”

According to reports, the initial plan to launch the saucer on Tuesday, June 2 from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, was dismissed due to rough oceanic conditions.

The LDSD project has been sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and is being managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.