Last Wednesday, NASA conducted another successful test of the parachute to be used on the Orion spacecraft. The Orion will carry astronauts deeper into space, farther than any other spacecraft. It has an emergency abort capability that can sustain the crew during space travel and ensure a safe re-entry and landing back to Earth. The parachute test is one of the preparations for the 2014 orbital flight test of the spacecraft.
The parachute test was done in the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in southwestern Arizona. A C-17 plane dropped an Orion spacecraft test model from an altitude of 25,000 feet. The Orion’s drogue chutes were deployed between 20,000 to 15,000 feet. Followed next by the pilot parachute which deployed the main landing parachute. The Orion descended approximately 25 feet per second, well below the maximum speed it was designed for.
“Across the country, NASA and industry are moving forward on the most advanced spacecraft ever designed, conducting drop and splashdown tests, preparing ground systems, designing software and computers and paving the way for the future of exploration,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Today’s parachute test in Yuma is an important reminder of the progress being made on Orion and its ultimate mission — enabling NASA to meet the goal of sending humans to an asteroid and Mars.”
The Orion program had been conducting extensive parachute air and ground tests since 2007. In 2014, the Orion will launch into space unmanned to undergo an exploration flight test. It will travel 3,600 miles above the surface of the Earth which is 15 times farther than the orbit of the International Space Station. The objective of the test is to understand Orion’s heat shield performance at speeds generated during a return from deep space. NASA will launch Orion in 2017.
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News source: www.nasa.gov