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NASA's 'Flying Saucer' Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Takes Flight From Hawaii

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NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) was successfully launched on a helium balloon today at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii later the LDSD will be released at 120,000 feet and fire a Star 48B rocket motor to boost it to Mach 4.0 and 180,000 feet. This height and speed simulates a spacecraft flying through the Martian atmosphere and is where the air breaking systems will be tested on the LDSD vehicle.

LDSD is fitted with what is called SIAD-R, a giant dounaut air bag that will increase the diameter of the vehicle and help slow it down to Mach 2.5 where a supersonic parachute will deploy ahead of a safe landing in the Pacific Ocean for recovery.

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