The classical saucer-shaped UFO is the stuff of lore, being cited by many as a vessel for yet-undiscovered alien life. In the future, it could be our own flying saucers spotted zipping around space, with NASA working on its own saucer-shaped vehicle.
The saucer is officially called the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, shortened to LDSD, and it serves as a test vehicle for potential future Mars missions. Assembly of the saucer was just recently finalized in Hawaii. The first launch opportunity is set on June 3, but NASA has a few weeks of testing set to take place first, among them being rehearsals and simulations. The eventual June test flight will then take place from the saucer’s station in Hawaii.
The test vehicle will be carried to approximately 120,000 feet by a balloon, where it will then be dropped for a booster rocket to fire up and take it to 180,000 feet. From that height, the LDSD will then carry out automated tests that could one day aid Mars missions.