Today, NASA will be launching the next test flight of its unique flying-saucer shaped spacecraft designed for landing hefty payloads on the red planet Mars. The official name of this innovative vehicle is Low Density Supersonic Decelerator or LDSD. The LDSD is 15 ft or 4.5 m wide and has a body weight of more than 3 tons. One of its most fascinating features is its two-part braking system, which comes equipped with a huge parachute and an inflatable doughnut-shaped braking shield.
The braking shield, which NASA has named SIAD-R or Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, has been designed for unfolding and inflating the size and the atmospheric drag of the LDSD.