NASA Flying Saucer built to take Heavy Payloads to Mars

Conspiracy theorists will love this one. NASA has been working on ways to get heavy payloads to Mars, and they’ve just tested a new kind of system. The NASA flying saucer has just had its maiden voyage, and they’ve released video of their shiny new toy.

The NASA flying saucer is actually a Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator or LDSD for short. It’s a saucer shaped vehicle being tested as a new way to get large payloads to the Red Planet, and it took its first voyage back in June from the Pacific Missile Range Facility owned by the Navy in Kauai, Hawaii.

The LDSD was taken to a height of around 190,000 feet with the help of a ginormous balloon. The flying saucer was able to obtain Mach 4.3 before scientists deployed something called a SIAD, or Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator to slow it down. The massive inflatable donut was able to slow the vehicle to Mach 2, which is where another piece of new tech kicked in – the Supersonic Disksail Parachute.

The SDP chute is the largest parachute of its kind, and while the air-braking donut held up well, the SDP did not. They say it, better than we ever could…

“The idea of taking 200 pounds of Kevlar and nylon and deploying it at 2,500 mph, 200 pounds that inflated would be the size of a small warehouse, is certainly a challenging endeavor. There’s a lot of physics with this problem that we’re now gaining new insights into that we’ve never had before,” said Ian Clark, principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as quoted by AP.

“We’re going to take all of that knowledge, and feed it toward our flights next year.”

The launch was the first of several planned by NASA, and they had a few video cameras onboard for the ride. The next flying saucer launch will take place sometime next summer, and the footage they took from the LDSD’s trip is well worth a look. You can watch the vehicle in action below, and find out more about the project over at NASA.

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  1. peabody3000 says

    wow that chute didnt stand a chance. what if it had stretch points located throughout so that it wouldnt have to endure the shock of billowing out all at once?

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