NASA`s Orion spacecraft passes most complex parachute test

The US space agency, NASA, has successfully completed the most complex and flight-like test of the Orion spacecraft`s parachute system on Wednesday.

By Salome Phelamei | Updated: Jun 26, 2014, 18:29 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei

Washington: The US space agency, NASA, has successfully completed the most complex and flight-like test of the Orion spacecraft`s parachute system on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, a test version of the Orion spacecraft was pulled out of a C-17 aircraft, 35,000 feet above the US Army`s Yuma Proving Ground. Orion craft went into a 10-second free fall, increasing the vehicle`s speed and aerodynamic pressure.

The Orion spacecraft then touched down safely in the Arizona desert, said NASA.

“We`ve put the parachutes through their paces in ground and airdrop testing in just about every conceivable way before we begin sending them into space on Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 before the year`s done,” said Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer. “The series of tests has proven the system and will help ensure crew and mission safety for our astronauts in the future.”
The Orion capsule is designed to take astronauts to Mars and other far-flung destinations. It will depend on parachutes to slow its descent when it re-enters the atmosphere after spaceflight.

NASA`s Orion spacecraft will blast into space for the first time in December. In its unmanned mission called `Exploration Flight Test-1` (EFT-1), Orion will travel 3,600 miles into space, farther than any spacecraft built to carry humans in more than 40 years.

During its return to Earth, Orion will reach a speed of about 20,000 mph and experience temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, the parachutes will be responsible to slow Orion down to about 20 mph for a safe splash down in the Pacific Ocean, NASA officials said.
NASA is due to perform another parachute test in August, where it will test the combined failure drogue parachute and one main parachute, as well as new parachute design features.

Photo Credit: NASA/Rad Sinyak