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Mars flying saucer test postponed due to weather

Mars flying saucer test: NASA's 'flying saucer,' a disc-shaped vehicle with a huge supersonic parachute designed to bring a spacecraft to Mars, will have to wait for its test flight, say space agency officials.

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    A test vehicle holding equipment for landing large payloads on Mars is depicted in this undated image provided by NASA. The craft is shown in the Missile Assembly Building at the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kekaha on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. The vehicle, part of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project, will test an inflatable decelerator and a parachute at high altitudes and speeds over the Pacific Missile Range.
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Bad weather is preventing NASA from launching a "flying saucer" into Earth's atmosphere to test technology that could be used to land on Mars.

The space agency postponed a launch Wednesday and later scrubbed a scheduled Saturday attempt. It was to test a disc-shaped vehicle and giant parachute off the Hawaiian island of Kauai under atmospheric conditions similar to Mars.

For decades, 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.

Mission managers are deciding their next move, including possibly extending the two-week test flight window that began last Tuesday. NASA has invested $150 million in the mission and any extension would cost money.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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