NASA set to launch revolutionary 'flying saucer' test

NASA Develops Flying Saucer to Roam Mars
NASA Develops Flying Saucer to Roam Mars

Scientists at NASA are preparing for what they call an important stone in experimental flight tests Tuesday as they launch a flying saucer designed for future Mars exploration.

Using a large balloon, a 15-foot wide saucer will be launched from the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii and carried to a height of 120,000 feet before booster rockets fire and blast it up to a height of 180,000 feet.

At that point, NASA will begin monitoring the airbag and parachute designed to help slow the craft to a safer descent.

NASA announced back in April that their Jet Propulsion Laboratory did some spin tests on their Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator in preparation for a this flight.

"This year's test is centered on how our newly-designed supersonic parachute will perform. We think we have a great design ready for the challenge, but the proof is in the pudding and the pudding will be made live for everyone to see," Mark Adler said, project manager for LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Space enthusiasts will be able to tune into the broadcast live on Ustream starting at 1 p.m. EDT.