Thursday, May 2, 2013

Orion handles parachute test

NASA's Orion safely landed during a simulation of two types of parachute failures Wednesday in Yuma, Ariz. The capsule was traveling about 250 mph when the parachutes were deployed. Engineers rigged one of the test capsule's two drogue parachutes not to deploy and one of its three main parachutes to skip its first stage of inflation after being extracted from a plane 25,000 feet above the Arizona desert. Orion has the largest parachute system ever built for a human-rated spacecraft. Orion's next Earth-based parachute test is scheduled for July, when the test capsule will be released from 35,000 feet. The first test of the parachutes after traveling in space will be during Exploration Flight Test-1 in 2014, when an uncrewed Orion will be return from 3,600 miles above Earth's surface. The spacecraft will be traveling at about 340 mph when the parachutes deploy. (Source: NASA, 05/01/13) Gulf Coast note: Orion is built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.