NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) launched on Monday, June 8th from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The saucer-shaped vehicle was used to test new technologies that will help NASA land heavier payloads than current technology will allow on the surface of planets including Mars. The test vehicle was carried by balloon to about 120,000 feet. After release, an engine took the vehicle to 180,000 feet, where the tests occurred in the thin atmosphere to simulate Mars’ atmosphere. This flight test was the second of three planned for the project. The LDSD mission is designed to test entry and descent technology in the form of a donut-shaped airbag and a supersonic parachute that can be deployed while the vehicle is traveling several times the speed of sound.
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