NASA's 'flying saucer' in pictures

NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), or ‘flying saucer', aims to test landing technologies for future Mars missions. NASA launched its second LDSD test flight on June 8, 2015, although only one of the two technologies designed to slow its descent to earth fully deployed.


    NASA's 'flying saucer'

    This artist's concept shows the test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), or ‘flying saucer’. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    Dress rehearsal

    The Moon sets during the full mission dress rehearsal for the second LDSD test flight, May 29, 2015. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

    Test vehicle heads to the launch pad

    NASA’s LDSD test vehicle is rolled out to the launch pad under moon light, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai, Hawaii. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

    Launch preparations

    NASA scientists prepare the LDSD test vehicle for its launch on June 8, 2015. The large scientific balloon used in the test was 34.4 million cubic feet in volume. When launched, the balloon and the test vehicle stood at a towering 980 feet tall. (NASA)

    Balloon flight

    This image shows a balloon lifting NASA’s LDSD test vehicle to its float altitude of 120,000 feet. After detaching from the balloon, the vehicle's booster rocket was engaged for the next stage of the test. After reaching a height of 180,000 feet  a doughnut-shaped airbag, called a Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD) successfully inflated around the saucer for its descent to earth.  A huge parachute, however, only partially opened, according to NASA. (NASA)

    Test vehicle recovery

    Two members of the U.S. Navy's Mobile Diving Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 Explosive Ordnance Detachment work on recovering the test vehicle for NASA's LDSD project, June 8, 2015. (U.S. Navy)
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