KAUAI, Hawaii, June 11 (UPI) -- For the fourth time in a week, NASA is postponing the inaugural launch of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a flying saucer prototype the space agency hopes one day can land on Mars.
But Mars is a long way off, as the LDSD can't even get off the ground here on Earth, thanks to a series of weather delays caused by uncooperatively high winds at the launch site in Hawaii.
"Wind conditions have been the prevailing factor in the launch delays, as they have to be just the right speed and direction in order to launch the balloon that carries the LDSD test vehicle," NASA officials said.
Today -- just as it was a week ago and three times since -- the saucer-like craft was supposed to be floated high into the atmosphere by a hot air balloon and released. Once free, it was to initiate its trademark spinning motion to stabilize itself and then fire off its thrusters to launch upward toward the edge of space.
Upon free fall, the craft was expected to test two major braking components. The first: an inflatable balloon-like casing that surrounds the saucer and increases its wind resistance, slowing its descent. The second: the largest parachute ever to be deployed.
Alas, all this will have to wait until at least the weekend, NASA confirmed Wednesday morning, when LDSD engineers will try again.