The Crew Exploration Vehicle Parachute Assembly System (CPAS) is the parachute system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The test program consists of numerous drop tests, wherein a test article rigged with parachutes is extracted or released from an aircraft. During such tests, range safety is paramount, as is the recoverability of the parachutes and test article. It is crucial to establish an aircraft release point that will ensure that the article and all items released from it will land in safe locations. A new footprint predictor tool, called Sasquatch, was created in MATLAB. This tool takes in a simulated trajectory for the test article, information about all released objects, and atmospheric wind data (simulated or actual) to calculate the trajectories of the released objects. Dispersions are applied to the landing locations of those objects, taking into account the variability of winds, aircraft release point, and object descent rate.
Sasquatch establishes a payload release point (e.g., where the payload will be extracted from the carrier aircraft) that will ensure that the payload and all objects released from it will land in a specified cleared area. The landing locations (the final points in the trajectories) are plotted on a map of the test range.
Sasquatch was originally designed for CPAS drop tests and includes extensive information about both the CPAS hardware and the primary test range used for CPAS testing. However, it can easily be adapted for more complex CPAS drop tests, other NASA projects, and commercial partners.
CPAS has developed the Sasquatch footprint tool to ensure range safety during parachute drop tests. Sasquatch is well correlated to test data and continues to ensure the safety of test personnel as well as the safe recovery of all equipment. The tool will continue to be modified based on new test data, improving predictions and providing added capability to meet the requirements of more complex testing.
This work was done by Kristin Bledsoe of Jacobs Engineering for Johnson Space Center. MSC-25117-1