"Traveling at 3.5 times the speed of sound, the saucer's decelerator will inflate, slowing the vehicle down, and then a parachute will deploy to carry it to the ocean's surface."
Washington, May 21 - NASA has fully assembled its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), the first supersonic saucer-shaped vehicle that could help scientists explore the surface of Mars, as it gears up for a flight test next month.
The flight test is scheduled to take place at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii June 3, the space agency announced.
NASA's LDSD test is designed to investigate breakthrough technologies that will benefit landing future human and robotic mars missions, as well as aid in safely returning large payloads to earth.
The NASA LDSD test over the Pacific Ocean will simulate the entry, descent and landing speeds a spacecraft would be exposed to when flying through the Martian atmosphere.
During the test a large saucer-shaped disk carrying an inflatable inner tube-shaped decelerator and parachute system will be carried to an altitude of 120,000 feet by a giant balloon.
After release from the balloon, rockets will lift the disk to 180,000 feet while reaching supersonic speeds.
Traveling at 3.5 times the speed of sound, the saucer's decelerator will inflate, slowing the vehicle down, and then a parachute will deploy to carry it to the ocean's surface.
NASA plans to conduct two more LDSD test flights from Hawaii in the summer of 2015, media reports said.