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This artist's concept shows the test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), designed to test landing technologies for future Mars missions. Photo: NASA

NASA prepares to launch flying saucer

WT24 Desk

PASADENA, Calif.– NASA has planned the second test-run of braking technology for its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, or LDSD, hoping for more success with the giant parachutes that could one day help it slow down as it lands on Mars, UPI reports.

The saucer-shaped LDSD is expected to be launched on July 3 with a weather balloon to test its redesigned supersonic parachute, which last year shredded during its first 3,000 mph descent. The supersonic parachute, which last year already was the largest ever flown, has been reshaped, reinforced and enlarged.

The LDSD has a doughnut-shaped balloon that creates atmospheric drag as it descends through a planet’s atmosphere before parachutes open to further slow it and allow for safe landing.

For the test, NASA has four cameras mounted on the craft — two will show the performance of the balloon as it inflates, one is focused on the rockets that allow NASA to control the LDSD in space, and one on the parachutes — and will stream video live on NASA TV Wednesday, June 3, no earlier than 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Their biggest concern, of course, is what happens to the supersonic parachutes at Mach 2.35.

“You get to see all the same video I do, at the same time I do,” said Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a press release. “This year’s test is centered 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.”

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