NASA successfully drops replica Orion spacecraft to examine parachutes

Nasa orion spacecraft Parachute test
Image Credit: NASA. A test of the Orion human space capsule's parachute system in December 2012. NASA plans to conduct another Orion drop test on March 8, 2017.

NASA on Friday, fortunately, released a replica Orion spacecraft from an Air Force transport aircraft to a southwestern Arizona desert site to examine the craft’s ability to cope with a partial parachute failure. Replica Orion spacecraft was released from an Air Force transport aircraft to a southwestern Arizona desert site.

The scientists designed failed one our of three parachutes on the Orion spacecraft. Interestingly, it managed to land fine even with two working parachutes.

Jim McMichael, a NASA systems engineer, stated the 10-ton replica was “sitting perfectly upright” after hopping once when it grounded at the Yuma Proving Ground, an Army installation. The Orion spacecraft has been invented to carry four astronauts deep in the space.

McMichael said the copy is the equivalent weight and width of the actual spacecraft but shorter so it would fit in the C-17. A NASA crew planned to pick up the parachutes and send them and the replica to the Yuma airport used as the staging site for the parachute testing.

The test on Friday was the fifth of a series of eight Orion parachute examinations that started in 2016 and that will end in late 2018, he stated.

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or Orion MPCV is an American space probe which is intended to ferry a team of four astronauts to beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) or Mars. Currently, the spaceship is being developed by NASA to take wings via Space Launch System. The fundamental aim of Orion is to facilitate astronauts to explore more about asteroids, Mars and to get back crew and supplies from the International Space Station if required.

The parachute system of Orion consists of 11 parachutes in total, three out of which are forward bay cover parachutes, designed to be deployed first, two are drogue parachutes, which will be used second, at an altitude of nearly 25,000 feet, and rest three are pilot parachutes which are intended for deployment at approximately 9,500 feet. The parachute system of Orion can hold back the space capsule to only 20 mph (32 km/h]) before landing. According to NASA, all through the parachute test, the team associated with Orion spacecraft will focus more on “deployment of the spacecraft’s two drogue parachutes at minimal speeds, and employment of its three main parachutes during the preparation for touchdown.”

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Saloni Sharma

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