|NASA test successful|
NASA engineers conducted another successful airdrop test of the Orion space capsule’s descent and landing parachutes, high above the Yuma Proving Ground early Wednesday morning. Footage provided by YPG and NASA
|NASA parachute test load|
A capsule-shaped object is being loaded onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 at Yuma International Airport Monday morning as part of a test for the Orion space capsule paracute system.
|Orion Exploration Flight Test Animation|
This narrated video animation shows the different components of the Orion capsule and various tests that will be done in the future. The parachute for the capsule is being tested at Yuma Proving Ground this week. NASA VIDEO
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NASA engineers conducted another successful airdrop test of the Orion space capsule's descent and landing parachutes at Yuma Proving Ground early Wednesday morning.
“From our visual — and it is a quick look from what we saw out here today — everything appeared to work perfectly,” said Jim McMichael, engineer and integration manager for NASA's capsule parachute assembly system (CPAS). “All the parachutes we were expecting worked, and the sequence looked right, so it looks like a good successful test for us.”
A U.S. Air Force C-17 dropped the capsule-shaped parachute test vehicle from an altitude of 25,000 feet over the base's Robby/Lapoza drop zone at about 7:30 a.m. The purpose of the test was to determine what would happen if one of those three main parachutes prematurely opened and inflated too quickly, and what effect it would have on the other two chutes.
Chris Johnson, project manager for CPAS, explained that data from the parachute test will be added to the project's mathematical model in order to form a more accurate representation of what the impact was on each of the chutes.
The parachute system, which consists of a series of parachutes that work in tandem to slow the capsule's decent after re-entry, will be used to recover the Orion crew capsule, allowing it to land softly in the ocean to be recovered.
The C-17 flew over the drop zone three times, dropping the capsule-shaped test vehicle on its second pass. Moments after the test began, two 28-foot extraction parachutes pulled the pallet and test object out the back of the plane.
The capsule then fell for a few seconds while still on the pallet before it separated. A short time later, two programmer chutes deployed, stabilizing the capsule. That was followed by three pilot chutes, which then deployed the three main landing parachutes at an altitude of approximately 8,400 feet, or 73 seconds into the decent.
Of the 17 parachutes needed to conduct the test, only eight were the actual Orion spacecraft's parachutes. The other nine were used in various other aspects of the test, such as lowering the pallet to the ground.
Once on the capsule landed, NASA engineers and CPAS team members began recovery operations by gathering up the parachutes and organizing the cords so they could be folded and taken back to YPG's air delivery complex, where they would be cleaned and repaired for future use.
Orion is NASA's next-generation spacecraft and is being designed to carry astronauts deeper into space than ever before, eventually even to the planet Mars. Its first flight, which will be unmanned, is scheduled to take place in about two years. The spacecraft will be sent into space 15 times farther away than where the International Space Station is currently orbiting.