NASA postpones Mars 'flying saucer' test on Earth

June 12, 2014
In this undated image provided by NASA a saucer-shaped test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. On Wednesday, June 11, 2014 weather permitting, a balloon carrying the saucer-shaped vehicle is set to launch from Hawaii. (AP Photo/NASA)

Bad weather is preventing NASA from launching a "flying saucer" into Earth's atmosphere to test technology that could be used to land on Mars.

The postponed a launch Wednesday and later scrubbed a scheduled Saturday attempt. It was to test a disc-shaped vehicle and giant parachute off the Hawaiian island of Kauai under atmospheric conditions similar to Mars.

For decades, NASA has depended on the same parachute design to slow spacecraft after they enter the Martian atmosphere. But it needs a larger and stronger parachute if it wants to land heavier objects and astronauts.

Mission managers are deciding their next move, including possibly extending the two-week test flight window that began last Tuesday. NASA has invested $150 million in the mission and any extension would cost money.

Explore further: JPL to test new supersonic decelerator technology

Related Stories

JPL to test new supersonic decelerator technology

December 18, 2013

( —A giant crane will tower above NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., shooting out of a hilly mesa like an oversized erector set, ready to help test components of NASA's Low Density Supersonic ...

JPL tests big with a supersonic parachute for Mars

April 11, 2014

"You wanna go to Mars, you wanna go big? Then you gotta test big here," says mechanical engineer Michael Meacham, and testing big is exactly what he and other engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have done to develop ...

NASA's saucer-shaped craft preps for flight test

May 19, 2014

( —NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project, a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle, has completed final assembly at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

NASA to test giant Mars parachute on Earth

June 1, 2014

The skies off the Hawaiian island of Kauai will be a stand-in for Mars as NASA prepares to launch a saucer-shaped vehicle in an experimental flight designed to land heavy loads on the red planet.

NASA's 'flying saucer' readies for first test flight

June 3, 2014

( —It only sounds like science fiction. To test a new technology for landing heavy payloads on Mars, NASA is about to drop a flying-saucer shaped vehicle from a helium balloon high above Earth's surface.

Recommended for you

Dead comets and near-earth encounters

October 13, 2015

Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are asteroids or comets whose orbits sometimes bring them close to the Earth, thereby posing a potentially threat. The asteroid that struck Chelyabinsk last year was an NEO about 40 meters in diameter. ...

What happens when your brain can't tell which way is up?

October 13, 2015

In space, there is no "up" or "down." That can mess with the human brain and affect the way people move and think in space. An investigation on the International Space Station seeks to understand how the brain changes in ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.