NASA’s supersonic giant helium balloon blown away before fully deploying

On Monday a giant balloon was launched by NASA, transporting a “flying saucer” to test for landing technologies on Mars, wherein the first time it was tested,  its giant parachute deployed only partially.

The largest parachute ever to be constructed was fitted in the aircraft,  after several days of delay due to weather unsuitability,  was finally launched from a Hawaiian military base.

In a live broadcast which witnessed the event, NASA said the immense helium balloon floated for about three hours.

Once the “saucer” has been picked up and a black box-type device examined, NASA will hold a briefing on Tuesday at 1700 GMT.

The saucer-shaped apparatus called the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator was tested for the second time that fateful day.

In June 2014, it was first tested and the parachute became frayed and failed to deploy on the way down. Since then, NASA has made modification to its design.
The agency aims to send humans to Mars with 2030 as the  projected target year, and with this ambition in mind, the agency is now in the testing process of a more advanced and newer generation of technology parachutes, dubbed as the Supersonic Ringsail Parachute.

It allows heavier spacecraft,  the kind that is able to support humans and their supplies on board, to touch down softly without damage.

The “flying saucer” is that kind of vehicle,  weighing 6,808 pounds or 3,088 kilograms, it is about twice the weight of the robot rover spacecraft NASA is currently able to land safely on Mars.

The parachute is described by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as “the largest parachute ever to be deployed,” measures 100 feet or 30 meters in diameter.

The breakthrough technology is being tested in a high altitude because conditions there are comparable to Mars atmospheric condition.




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