Why NASA keeps postponing its ‘flying saucer’ test launch

A saucer-shaped test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kaua'i, Hawaii. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Looks like NASA’s launch of its flying saucer isn’t going to happen, at least for now.

The space agency had planned to test its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator off Kauai, but the mission has been postponed several times because of unfavorable weather.

The last designated launch date was this Saturday, but winds just aren’t right.

“We needed the mid-level winds, the winds between 50,000-60,000 feet, to take us away from the islands in order for the flight to be safe, you have to make sure the balloon is carried away from the island,” explained project manager Mark Adler. “The balloon cannot be steered. The balloon only goes where the wind goes.”

Still, NASA’s not giving up.

“We still have a great vehicle to fly,” Adler said. “We have great support here from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. We’re ready to go. We’re not giving up. We’re looking at other opportunities potentially for later this month so we’re looking to see what our options are.”

The team had researched the weather conditions off Kauai for more than two years and say it was always consistent.

But unusual weather in the northern hemisphere this year caused the weather patterns off Kauai to change.

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