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US MARTIAN FLYING SAUCER tests above Hawaii: postponed

Come on NASA, pull your bloody finger out

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Today's planned launch of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) has been cancelled, meaning that ballocket fans have once again been denied the thrill of seeing a mighty 963,000m3 helium-filled orb lift a rocket-powered flying saucer into the upper atmosphere.

NASA had its LDSD all prepped and ready to roll yesterday, complete with ATK Star 48B thruster poised to power the test of inflatable deceleration airbags for possible use on future Mars landings.

The LDSD with its rocket motor attached. Pic: NASA

Good to go: The LDSD and its mighty rocket motor. Pic: NASA via Twitter

Sadly, the flight from the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii, won't now happen until Saturday at the earliest.

No doubt there are readers who'd stacked a few cold ones in the fridge in anticipation, and are wondering just how difficult it can be to get a rocket-powered vehicle into the stratosphere for a simple flight to Mach 4, pump up a few "Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators" and then throw out a supersonic parachute before nipping out into the Pacific for a triumphant ocean recovery.

By way of small compensation for the disappointment, NASA has published a couple of timely artists' impressions of what a launch might actually look like - in this case the Space Launch System (SLS):

Artist's impressions of the SLS launch

What a NASA launch may actually looks like. Pic: NASA

The SLS is due to soar heavenwards for the first time in 2017, carrying an unmanned Orion spacecraft. With any luck, the agency may just have got its flying saucer into the air by then. ®

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