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You are here News Of Special Interest Nasa launches 'flying saucer' tech

Nasa launches 'flying saucer' tech

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LDSDThe US space agency (Nasa) has launched an atmospheric test vehicle that looks every inch like a flying saucer.

In reality, the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) is a demonstrator for the type of technologies humans will need to land on Mars. The LDSD has been sent into the stratosphere via a balloon off Hawaii.

It will trial a new type of parachute and an inflatable Kevlar ring that can help slow down a spacecraft as it approaches the Red Planet's surface.

Nasa says it is trying to raise the current maximum mass that can be put on Mars from 1.5 tonnes to something nearer the 20-30 tonnes a human mission might require.

Ian Clark, the LDSD's principal investigator told BBC News: "We're testing technologies that will enable us to land bigger payloads, much heavier payloads, at higher altitude and with more accuracy than we've ever been able to do before."

The experiment was launched from the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

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