[meteorite-list] NASA Puts Orion Backup Parachutes to the Test

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 15:52:56 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201212202352.qBKNquAx019393_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

Dec. 20, 2012

Rachel Kraft
Headquarters, Washington
rachel.h.kraft at nasa.gov

Brandi Dean
Johnson Space Center, Houston
brandi.k.dean at nasa.gov

RELEASE: 12-441


HOUSTON -- NASA completed the latest in a series of parachute tests
for its Orion spacecraft Thursday at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving
Ground in southwestern Arizona, marking another step toward a first
flight test in 2014. The test verified Orion can land safely even if
one of its two drogue parachutes does not open during descent.

Orion will take humans farther into space than ever before, but one of
the most challenging things the multipurpose vehicle will do is bring
its crew home safely. Because it will return from greater distances,
Orion will reenter the Earth's atmosphere at speeds of more than
20,000 mph. After re-entry, the parachutes are all that will lower
the capsule carrying astronauts back to Earth.

"The mockup vehicle landed safely in the desert and everything went as
planned," said Chris Johnson, a NASA project manager for Orion's
parachute assembly system. "We designed the parachute system so
nothing will go wrong, but plan and test as though something will so
we can make sure Orion is the safest vehicle ever to take humans to

Orion uses five parachutes. Three are main parachutes measuring 116
feet wide and two are drogue parachutes measuring 23 feet wide. The
21,000-pound capsule needs only two main parachutes and one drogue.
The extra two provide a backup in case one of the primary parachutes

To verify Orion could land safely with only one drogue parachute,
engineers dropped a spacecraft mockup from a plane 25,000 feet above
the Arizona desert and simulated a failure of one of the drogues.
About 30 seconds into the mockup's fall, the second drogue parachute
opened and slowed the mockup down enough for the three main
parachutes to take over the descent.

The next Orion parachute test is scheduled for February and will
simulate a failure of one of the three main parachutes.

In 2014, an uncrewed Orion spacecraft will launch from Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station in Florida on Exploration Flight Test-1. The
spacecraft will travel 3,600 miles above Earth's surface. This is 15
times farther than the International Space Station's orbit and
farther than any spacecraft designed to carry humans has gone in more
than 40 years. The main flight objective is to test Orion's heat
shield performance at speeds generated during a return from deep

For information about Orion, visit:


Received on Thu 20 Dec 2012 06:52:56 PM PST

Help support this free mailing list:

Yahoo MyWeb