It was a beautiful balloon that launched into the skies over Hawaii recently, carrying the LDSD, a flying saucer-like craft that NASA hopes to use as a Mars lander. Once the balloon carried the spacecraft high enough, onboard rockets kicked in so that it could rise further, stopping just shy of outer space.
NASA had hoped to test the craft's landing parachute, designed to slow it down when or if the LDSD reached Mars. The disappointment could be heard in the groans and muttering of the engineers in the mission control room on the ground when the chute did not open as designed. The LDSD was the brought down into the Pacific Ocean. NASA officials have said they will try again next year, after examining the parachute failure and making necessary improvements.