NASA's 'flying saucer' for Mars landing splashes down

A saucer-shaped NASA vehicle testing new technology for Mars landings made a successful rocket ride over the Pacific, but its massive descent parachute only partially unfurled.

The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator was lifted by balloon 120,000 feet into the air from the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The vehicle then rocketed even higher before deploying a novel inflatable braking system.

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Up, up & away, our balloon with the 'flying saucer' shaped #LDSD Mars test vehicle! Watch: http://t.co/2A5oHALCGx   http://t.co/n2JC6K7bE9

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Our 'flying saucer' shaped #LDSD Mars test vehicle is still climbing. Balloon drop ~5pm ET: http://t.co/2A5oHALCGx  http://t.co/XMjswSzWvj

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But cheers rapidly died as a gigantic chute designed to slow its fall to splashdown in the ocean emerged tangled. Still, NASA officials said it is a pretty good test of technology that might one day be used to deliver heavy spacecraft - and eventually astronauts - to Mars.

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LDSD approx. drop time is 4:51pm EDT. Seen here is balloon inflation earlier today. Updates - http://t.co/PVHtNWavla. http://t.co/YRMvE3ZZaS

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