A NASA spacecraft shaped like a stereotypical UFO and engineered to drop giant payloads to the surface of Mars just finished its second flight test above Earth, and it suffered a similar fate as the first test in June of last year.
After about a week of delays due to weather, NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) climbed into the skies above Hawaii for its test at 1:45 p.m. ET, almost exactly one year after the space system’s first flight in June 2014.
Just as it had the first time, during Monday’s flight the spacecraft’s massive supersonic parachute — about the length of a Boeing 747 — malfunctioned, appearing to rip apart just after it was deployed. The parachute is the largest supersonic parachute ever tested. Similar, though more compact, technology was employed for landing the Mars Curiosity Rover in 2012.
However, the rest of the test did seem to go well.
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