NASA to Test Its Rocket-Powered ‘Flying Saucer’ On Thursday

NASA to Test Its Rocket-Powered ‘Flying Saucer’ On Thursday

Space agency NASA is planning to launch its rocket-powered ‘flying saucer’ from a test range in Hawaii on Thursday.

The saucer-shaped Low Density supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) has been specifically designed to demonstrate technologies that are more likely to come into play for delivering heavy payload to mars.

This odd-looking craft by NASA is equipped with an inflatable, doughnut-shaped shield as well as a super-strong parachute that should slow the LDSD down from supersonic speeds during descent.

It has been found that NASA Television and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Ustream video channel are scheduled to stream live coverage of launch activities beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday.

During the test flight the high altitude balloon will carry the LDSD aloft from the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

NASA said in a statement that it would take almost two to three hours for the balloon to rise to 120,000 feet. The LDSD would be dropped from that height and then fire its rocket engine to go even higher at a height of almost 180,000 feet.

During the experiment when going upwards, the LDSD is expected to hit a top speed of Mach 4, or four times the speed of sound.

NASA experts said that the test parachute after this is expected to unfurl to slow the descent even more, to make it easy for the LDSD platform to fall gently into the Pacific Ocean about 40 minutes after being dropped from the balloon.