photo credit: NASA flying saucer test flight preparations. NASA
Hawaii – Thanks again to turbulent ocean conditions, NASAs “Flying Saucer”, otherwise known as the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), will be rescheduled for a June 4th launch date. Although the saucer will be dropped from high-up in a weather balloon, calmer waves are needed in order to recover the craft safely.
The goal of the LDSD launch is to test the Supersonic Ringsail parachute design that will hopefully help land either large payloads of instruments and supplied or ever man on Mars at some point in the near future. With different conditions on the red planet, many tests need to be made before launching a multi-million dollar space craft to another planet to ensure the safety of its payload.
The LDSD Flying Saucer design is a drastic change in design from past landing devices as well as a leap in landing option technology. Parachutes have been used in landing rovers in mars since the 1976 Viking program. The same parachute design that is being tested here was also used to help lower the Curiosity rover back in 2012, but scientists need to continue testing and developing new landing systems to not only ensure the safety of the cargo but also to accommodate for larger loads and the need for a more sensitive landing.
To get an idea of what NASA is doing with their flying saucer, here is a video of a previous test launch: