|NASA parachute test at YPG|
These views show a parachute test at Yuma Proving Ground from Oct. 2009 which tied the record for the the heaviest payload ever dropped by air. The parachute will be used by NASA in the next generation of manned spacecraft. Video courtesy NASA/YPG
|Orion rocket system (2007)|
In this video from Nov. 2007, Kim Newton, spokesperson for NASA, explains the plan for the new Orion rocket system that will replace the space shuttle. This presentation was done at Yuma Proving Ground while testing a parachute system for the rocket.
|Successful test in 2009|
NASA tested the world's largest parachutes at Yuma Proving Ground in May of 2009 as part of it 's Constellation Program, which was expected to replace the shuttle. Video by James Gilbert, Jared Dort, and Darin Fenger
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NASA to drop parachutes over YPG
The Yuma area is helping NASA reach for the stars.
Engineers and experts have been in the area preparing for an important test of a parachute system designed to return astronauts safely to Earth after future missions to outer space.
On Wednesday, a C-17 military transport aircraft will drop a Parachute Test Vehicle (PTV) from an altitude of 25,000 feet above Yuma Proving Ground.
The PTV represents the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) being developed by NASA to meet the evolving needs of its space program over the coming decades.
NASA teams “have had a presence here in Yuma for the past two and a half weeks, putting the capsule together so that everything is loaded and packed the appropriate way so that the systems do their jobs,” said Gen Grosse, Yuma International Airport corporate account manager.
NASA has been using the defense contractor hangar at the Yuma airport as a base of operations to develop the MPCV parachute assembly system since late 2009. “We are really thrilled that they made the decision to call the Pappy Boyington Hangar their home,” Grosse said.
“A lot of people within the community are unaware of all the activity that is going on here in the desert Southwest. These kinds of tests are so important for the future of manned and unmanned space flights.”
According to NASA, Orion is the “flagship of our nation's next-generation space fleet” and will “push the envelope of human spaceflight far beyond low Earth orbit.”
The MPCV resembles its Apollo-era predecessors but is far more technologically advanced. It has been designed to support long-duration, deep-space missions up to six months long.
During the test, the capsule-shaped PTV will deploy the Orion MPCV's re-entry parachutes. The three stages of the deployment begin with drogue chutes, followed by pilot parachutes and finally by main landing parachutes.
The re-entry parachutes were designed to slow the vehicle after it passes through the upper atmosphere at a high rate of speed, allowing it to gently touch down, preserving both the lives of the astronauts and the payloads on board.
During the test, the drogue chutes will be deployed at about 17,500 feet, initiating the landing sequence. This particular drop test will examine how the wake of the Orion MPCV, a disturbance of the air flow behind the vehicle, will affect the performance of the parachute system.
According to NASA, parachutes optimally perform in “clean air.” But a wake of disturbed air flow can reduce the drag performance expected of a parachute and in some cases cause a parachute to collapse.
However, the Orion parachutes are designed to operate in such a wake, and this test will be used to assess how successful the chutes are in real-world conditions.
Since 2007, the Orion program has conducted a vigorous parachute air and ground test program in preparation for the orbital flight test of the MPCV aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket in 2014. Other MPCV parachute tests have previously been conducted at YPG.
When it is ready for spaceflight, the MPCV will include both crew and service modules, and a spacecraft adaptor.
The MPCV's crew module is much larger than Apollo's and can support more crew members for short- or long-duration spaceflight missions.
The crew module is the transportation capsule that provides a safe habitat for the crew, provides storage for consumables and research instruments and serves as the docking port for crew transfers. The crew module is the only part of the MPCV that returns to Earth after each mission.
The service module is the powerhouse that fuels and propels the spacecraft as well as the storehouse for the life-sustaining air and water astronauts need during their space travels. The service module's structure will also provide an area to mount scientific experiments and cargo.
Orion will also boast a revolutionary Launch Abort System (LAN) “that will significantly increase crew safety,” NASA stated.
The LAN, positioned on a tower atop the crew module, activates within milliseconds to propel the crew module to safety in the event of an emergency during launch or climb to orbit.
The LAN also protects the crew module from dangerous atmospheric loads and heating, then jettisons after the MPCV is through the initial mission phase of ascent to orbit.
For more information about the Orion project, log on to www.nasa.gov.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.