Space

May 1, 2013

Success continues as NASA’s Orion parachute tests get more difficult

A test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft safely landed during a simulation of two types of parachute failures May 1.

In the test, conducted in Yuma, Ariz., the mock capsule was traveling about 250 mph when the parachutes were deployed. That is the highest speed the craft has experienced as part of the test series designed to certify Orion’s parachute system for carrying humans.

Engineers rigged one of the test capsule’s two drogue parachutes not to deploy and one of its three main parachutes to skip its first stage of inflation after being extracted from a plane 25,000 feet above the Arizona desert. Drogue parachutes are used to slow and reorient Orion while the main parachutes inflate in three stages to gradually slow the capsule further as it descends.

The failure scenario, one of the most difficult simulated so far, will provide data engineers need for human rating the parachute system.

“The tests continue to become more challenging, and the parachute system is proving the design’s redundancy and reliability,” said Chris Johnson, NASA’s project manager for the Orion parachute assembly system. “Testing helps us gain confidence and balance risk to ensure the safety of our crew.”

Orion has the largest parachute system ever built for a human-rated spacecraft. The canopies of the three main parachutes can cover almost an entire football field. After reentering Earth’s atmosphere, astronauts will use the parachutes to slow the spacecraft for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Testing irregularities allows engineers to verify the parachutes are reliable even when something goes wrong. The tests provide information to refine models used to build the system and Orion. Changes to the design and materials used in Orion’s parachute system already have been made based on previous tests. Other government or commercial spacecraft using a similar parachute system also can benefit from the work done to validate Orion.

“Parachute deployment is inherently chaotic and not easily predictable,” said Stu McClung, Orion’s landing and recovery system manager. “Gravity never takes any time off – there’s no timeout. The end result can be very unforgiving. That’s why we test. If we have problems with the system, we want to know about them now.”

Orion’s next Earth-based parachute test is scheduled for July, when the test capsule will be released from 35,000 feet, a higher altitude than ever before. The first test of the parachutes after traveling in space will be during Exploration Flight Test-1 in 2014, when an uncrewed Orion will be return from 3,600 miles above Earth’s surface. The spacecraft will be traveling at about 340 mph when the parachutes deploy.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA image

NASA’s newest Mars mission spacecraft enters orbit around red planet

NASA image This animation depicts NASAís Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft orbiting Mars. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit at 10:24 p...
 
 
nasa-mars-website

NASA launches new citizen science website

Opens challenge to participate in future Mars missions NASA announced Sept. 20 the opening of registration for its Mars Balance Mass Challenge and the launch of its new website, NASA Solve, at the World Maker Faire in New York....
 
 
NASA Television

NASA cargo launches to space station aboard SpaceX resupply mission

NASA Television A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon cargo spacecraft on top launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Stationís Space Launch Complex-40 in Florida at 1:52 a.m., EDT, Sept. 21, 2014. The Dragon is carrying more ...
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Lockheed Martin successfully mates NOAA GOES-R satellite modules

Lockheed Martin photograph Lockheed Martin successfully mated together the large system and propulsion modules of the first GOES-R series weather satellite at the companyís Space Systems facilities near Denver, Colo. A team of...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA/GSFC

NASA Mars spacecraft ready for Sept. 21 orbit insertion

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft is nearing its scheduled Sept. 21 insertion into Martian orbit after completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles. Flight Controllers at Lockheed M...
 
 

Lockheed Martin-built CLIO satellite successfully launched

The U.S. government’s CLIO satellite, designed and built by Lockheed Martin, was successfully launched today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Lift-off occurred at 6:10 p.m., MDT, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle. Initial contact with the satellite was confirmed at 9:08 p.m., MDT. The CLIO system is based on innovative...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>