Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA tests Orion’s parachute performance over Arizona while work progresses in Florida

Date:
April 24, 2014
Source:
NASA
Summary:
The team designing the parachute system for NASA's Orion spacecraft has demonstrated almost every parachute failure they could imagine. But on April 23, they tested how the system would perform if the failure wasn't in the parachutes.

Orion's parachutes deflate after a successful touchdown following a test at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground on April 23.
Credit: NASA

The team designing the parachute system for NASA's Orion spacecraft has demonstrated almost every parachute failure they could imagine. But on April 23, they tested how the system would perform if the failure wasn't in the parachutes.

Related Articles


Orion is the safest spacecraft ever built to carry humans, and its Launch Abort System can take a good deal of the credit for that distinction. In an emergency on the launch pad or during the early stages of ascent, it can activate in milliseconds to pull the crew to safety. Once it has pulled the crew away from the emergency, it's up to the parachutes to bring them down for a safe landing.

"We hope we never have to use the parachutes this way," said Chris Johnson, project manager for the parachutes. "We want to see them deploy after a successful mission every time. But we need to know they can perform in an emergency, too."

In a pad abort or a low altitude launch abort, Orion's three main parachutes would be called on to lower the crew module to the ground without the help of the two drogues that normally precede them. The parachute system won't have as long to do the job since the spacecraft will be at much lower altitude than for a nominal reentry mission, and with the vehicle going slower, they won't deploy as quickly. And on top of all of these factors, the crew module will be flying sideways when the parachutes deploy, instead of falling straight down as it does during reentry.

To simulate those conditions, a test version of Orion was dropped from a C-17 at 13,000 feet above the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground, with the main parachutes deploying soon after leaving the plane, before the capsule had a chance to straighten out. All the elements worked together and the parachutes reached a fully open state setting up a soft landing as expected. But the real value of the test will come with the data the engineers were able to gather from it.

"We wanted to record how long it took to inflate the parachutes in a launch pad abort scenario and collect data on how the different conditions affected the quality of the parachute deployment," Johnson said. "With this test successfully completed, our next step is to dig into that information and use it to fine tune the launch abort trajectories for flight."

In addition to the new test conditions, this was also the first time that the steel risers connecting the parachute lines to Orion were replaced with the textile risers that will be incorporated into future Orion spacecraft after Orion's first flight this year. The new risers are lighter and more flexible -- two qualities that will come in particularly handy when Orion is ready to carry humans into space.

While engineers continue to test Orion's parachutes for future missions, engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida continue to make progress on the Orion spacecraft being prepared for its December trip to space. Inside the Operations and Checkout Building high bay, the crew module is positioned on a special portable test chamber for multi-point random vibration testing. Accelerometers and strain gauges have been attached to Orion in various locations. During a series of tests, each lasting only 30 seconds, Orion is being subjected to gradually increasing levels of vibrations that simulate levels the vehicle will experience during launch, orbit and descent. The data will be reviewed to assess the health of the crew module.

Orion's first flight will launch an uncrewed capsule 3,600 miles into space for a four-hour mission to test several of its most critical systems, including its parachutes. After making two orbits, Orion will return to Earth at almost 20,000 miles per hour and endure temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, before its parachutes slow it down for a landing in the Pacific Ocean.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "NASA tests Orion’s parachute performance over Arizona while work progresses in Florida." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424111828.htm>.
NASA. (2014, April 24). NASA tests Orion’s parachute performance over Arizona while work progresses in Florida. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424111828.htm
NASA. "NASA tests Orion’s parachute performance over Arizona while work progresses in Florida." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424111828.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) A tech company in Spain have combined technology with cuisine to develop the 'Foodini', a 3D printer designed to print the perfect cookie for Santa. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

AFP (Dec. 18, 2014) The first flight of Etihad Airways' long-awaited Airbus A380 superjumbo will take place later in December, the Abu Dhabi carrier said Thursday, also announcing its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner route. Duration: 01:09 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The automaker added 447,000 vehicles to its recall list, bringing the total to more than 502,000. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins