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Mars ‘Flying Saucer’ Splashes Down In Pacific After NASA Test

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NASA's Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD)

NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — A saucer-shaped NASA vehicle testing new technology for Mars landings has 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 on Saturday.

The vehicle then rocketed even higher before deploying a novel inflatable braking system.

But control cheers rapidly died as a gigantic chute designed to slow its fall to splashdown in the ocean emerged tangled.

Still, NASA officials say it’s a pretty good test of technology that might one day be used to deliver heavy spacecraft — and eventually astronauts — to Mars.

NASA plans a news conference on the flight Sunday.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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