Watch the test flight of NASA’s supersonic Mars-bound flying saucer in beautiful HD

August 11, 2014 2:18 PM

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Watch the test flight of NASA’s supersonic Mars-bound flying saucer in beautiful HD

After a number of false starts and launch delays, NASA has finally released HD footage of its flying saucer’s inaugural test flight over Hawaii. The flying saucer, or Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) to give its full name, is one of the possible technologies that NASA is investigating for safely landing large spacecraft on the surface of Mars and other planets in the not-so-distant future. Unsurprisingly the first test of the flying saucer didn’t quite go to plan — it shredded its supersonic parachute — but overall NASA is very pleased with the results. You can watch the flying saucer, and the shredded parachute, in glorious high-def (and slow-mo!) below.

On June 29, the LDSD was towed 23 miles (37 km) to the edge of space by a giant balloon. After the balloon released the flying saucer, an on-board solid-fuel rocket flared into life, propelling the craft to an altitude of 180,000 feet (34 miles) and four times the speed of sound (about 3,000 mph). T...

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