Watch Live: NASA Tests the Flying Saucer That Could Take Humans to Mars

Monday, 01 June 2015 - 1:01PM
Monday, 01 June 2015 - 1:01PM
NASA's revolutionary spacecraft, the flying saucer-shaped vehicle LDSD, is set to take its second test flight tomorrow. If the test launch is successful, NASA will have taken us one step closer to its lofty goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s. Here is the live stream, which will begin coverage of the event tomorrow, June 2, starting at 1 pm ET:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

NASA's low-density supersonic decelerator (LDSD) is essentially a giant donut-shaped balloon powered by rockets. It may look like a prop from an alien invasion film and/or a practical joke, but it's actually optimized for interplanetary travel. Its distinctive saucer shape helps increase the surface area, which creates a drag effect and allows for a soft landing. As a result of this cutting-edge technology, NASA hopes it will allow us to land large payloads on other planets, including Mars.

"NASA's LDSD project is designed to investigate and test breakthrough technologies for landing future robotic and human Mars missions and safely returning large payloads to Earth," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement. "The test, performed over the Pacific Ocean, will simulate the supersonic entry and descent speeds at which the spacecraft would be traveling through the Martian atmosphere."

Since the spacecraft is largely composed of a giant balloon, it is easily affected by the wind and other weather conditions. As a result, the launch window is fairly long, with the June 2 test planned between 1:30 and 3pm ET. If the test is canceled as a result of inclement weather tomorrow, then JPL will have other opportunities through June 12.

Here is a diagram showing each step of the planned test:
Watch Live: NASA Tests the Flying Saucer that Could Take Humans to Mars

There will also be a Q&A portion of the coverage at 2pm ET, during which participants can ask mission specialists questions by submitting queries to the Ustream chat box or via Twitter using the #askNASA hashtag.

This is the second test flight of the LDSD, with the first taking place almost a year ago on June 28, 2014. The first test was considered to be a success, since the spacecraft itself landed completely intact in the Pacific Ocean. But the parachute was ripped to shreds in the process, and the mission leaders are hoping that their upgraded designs will allow the parachute to remain intact during this second test.

Via Business Insider.

Load Comments