Mars 'flying saucer' splashes back down after test

Successful launch tempered by slight failure in parachute in reentry

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - 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.

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