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NASA tests new technology for Mars landing

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This handout photo provided June 3, 2014 by NASA/JPL/Caltech shows the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua‘i, Hawaii.

The US space agency has conducted a launch test on a saucer-shaped flying object to see whether it can land the vehicle properly in circumstances simulating landing conditions on Mars.

On Saturday, NASA flew the vehicle into the Earth’s atmosphere, using a balloon the size of a football stadium. The balloon released the saucer at a height of 120,000 feet.

The vehicle then started its rocket engine to reach an altitude of 180,000 feet (54,900 meters).

The saucer then detached the engine and started undergoing the next stage, namely having an inflatable device, meant to slow down its dive, deployed around it.

As the saucer plunged towards Earth, NASA began its second test, deploying a giant parachute 36 meters in diameter.

The parachute, however, failed to fully inflate and the saucer plunged into the water.

The parachute “does not look like it deployed that well,” said Dan Coatta, one of the mission specialists. “It deployed, but it did not fully inflate.”

He, however, said, “What we saw is a very good test.” “This is an opportunity to look at the data and learn what happen and apply that for the next test,” he said.


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