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NASA parachute test rescheduled for Thursday at YPG
YUMA PROVING GROUND - A drop test of a parachute system that will be used by NASA to recover the booster engine and capsule of a new rocket system is scheduled to take place at the base early Thursday morning.
According to spokeswoman Kim Newton, NASA is developing its next generation of spacecraft and rockets as part of a program called Project Constellation.
Newton said the project, which consists primarily of the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles and the Orion crew exploration vehicle, will become America's primary space transportation
system after the space shuttle is retired in 2010.
"We need this new system to have access to space," Newton said. "It's pulling the best from what we had in the past and moving it forward."
Ares I uses a five-segment reusable booster developed from the four segment boosters used to launch the Space Shuttle, while the Ares V heavy launch vehicle uses a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine similar to what was used to launch the Apollo rockets, Newton said.
Newton added that NASA has placed a high priority on having the Ares rocket system fully developed by 2015 because there could be a five-year period following the retirement of the shuttle where no space exploration will take place.
"These two rockets together will get us back to the moon," Newton said. "We will have a gap, so we are working hard to get the system developed for them."
Since the booster to launch the Ares I is larger than the one currently used to launch the shuttle, Newton said they can't use the same parachute recovery system, so NASA was at YPG Wednesday morning to test a larger parachute.
According to Ron King, Ares First Stage recovery manager for NASA, the parachute test was going to be conducted by dropping a 42,000 pound weighted test unit from a C-17 airplane from an altitude of 16,500 feet.
The one-ton, 150-foot diameter parachute, King said, is the largest parachute of its type in use today.
Once dropped from the back of the C-17, the parachute, which transmits data back to testers, was to deploy in six stages before opening fully, King said.
Due to a mechanical malfunction, that test had to be postponed until today.
Patrick Serani, test officer for YPG Aviation and Air Delivery system said a minor chip in the rail - which holds the payload in place inside the plane - was causing the test drop payload to snag.
"This is a normal occurrence from time to time in air drop tests," Serani said. "It really isn't a failure, it's interference at this point."
Serani said the problem was discovered as the payload was being loaded onto the plane and the test had to be aborted.
Testers were able to file the chip of the rail and the test was rescheduled for this morning.
James Gilbert can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854