The skies off the Hawaiian island of Kauai will be a stand-in for Mars as NASA prepares to launch a saucer-shaped vehicle in an experimental flight designed to land heavy loads on the red planet.
For decades, robotic landers and rovers have hitched a ride to Earth’s planetary neighbor using the same parachute design. But NASA needs a bigger and stronger parachute if it wants to send astronauts there.
Weather permitting, the space agency will conduct a test flight Tuesday high in Earth’s atmosphere that’s supposed to simulate the thin Martian air.
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