Last month we introduced you to the government's new flying-saucer spacecraft designed to help astronauts reach Mars. This weekend, NASA's ethereal Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) was sent aloft from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai on Saturday morning, carried by a giant helium balloon to an altitude of 120,000 feet, and released.
The test conducted off the Hawaiian coast was deemed a success, even though the enormous parachute did not fully deploy before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. Prior to its triumphant return to Earth, the billowy disc-shaped LDSD fired its Star 48B rocket, which was to elevate it to stratospheric levels near 180,000 feet, simulating flying through Martian space, before the deceleration process was initiated. Space agency officials applauded the effort and chalked the test up as a vital advancement toward landing spacecraft and humans on Mars.
Do you believe we'll rendezvous with the Red Planet in our lifetime, or is it a waste of pennies?