NASA postpones Mars 'flying saucer' test on Earth

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Associated Press

Posted on June 11, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 11 at 1:30 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S. space agency has postponed its plan to send a "flying saucer" into Earth's atmosphere to test technology that could be used to land on Mars.

NASA spokeswoman Shannon Ridinger says weather conditions caused Wednesday's launch of the saucer-shaped vehicle to be delayed. The next potential launch date is June 14.

NASA has depended on the same parachute design to slow spacecraft after they enter the Martian atmosphere. But it needs a larger and stronger parachute if it wants to land heavier objects and astronauts.

After being launched via balloon from Hawaii, the new vehicle will ignite its rocket engine and climb to 34 miles (54 kilometers). It will slow itself down from supersonic speeds and unfurl a parachute for a water landing.

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