Aerospace & Defense

Successful, Dramatic Test of Orion's Parachute System


NASA successfully completed a dramatic test of the Orion spacecraft's parachute system on August 26, 2015. A test version of Orion touched down in the Arizona desert after a planned failure of two of its parachutes used to stabilize and slow the spacecraft for landing. During the test, a C-17 aircraft dropped a representative Orion capsule from its cargo bay at an altitude of 35,000 feet - over 6.5 miles - in the skies above the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. The engineering model, which has a similar mass and interfaces with the parachute system as the Orion being developed for deep space missions, then began its parachute deployment sequence. Engineers purposefully simulated the failure of one of its two drogue parachutes, used to slow stabilize Orion in the air, and one of its three main parachutes, used to slow the crew module to landing speed, did not deploy. The airdrop test was the penultimate evaluation as part of an engineering series before tests begin next year to qualify the parachute system for crewed flights.