April 18, 2012
NASA Continues Orion Parachute Testing For Future Test Flight
NASA today successfully conducted a drop test of the Orion crew vehicle's entry, descent and landing parachutes high above the Arizona desert in preparation for the vehicle's orbital flight test, Exploration Flight Test -1, in 2014. Orion will carry astronauts deeper into space than ever before, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and ensure a safe re-entry and landing.
A C-130 plane dropped a dart-shaped test vehicle with a simulated Orion parachute compartment from an altitude of 25,000 feet above the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Grounds. Orion's drogue chutes were deployed at 20,000 feet, followed by the pilot parachutes, which then deployed the main landing parachutes. The test vehicle landed on the desert floor at a speed of almost 25 feet per second, well below the maximum designed touchdown speed of the spacecraft.
Since 2007, the Orion program has conducted a vigorous parachute air and ground test program and provided the chutes for NASA's successful pad abort test in 2010. The tests improve understanding about the chutes' technical performance for eventual human-rated certification. The next parachute test will be conducted this summer.