Wednesday, 13 November, 2019


SpaceX completes crucial tests of its Crew Dragon parachutes

SpaceX Mark 3 parachute test A scene from a video released by SpaceX Nov. 3 showing the latest test of the Mark 3 parachutes for its Crew Dragon spacecraft. Credit SpaceX
Kristine Garrett | 07 November, 2019, 08:28

NASA and SpaceX just took another important step toward launching astronauts from USA soil through their Dragon safety test.

SpaceX has announced that it has now completed 13 successful tests of the Mark 3 parachute system.

The latest test was again created to test the redundancy of the system, demonstrating its ability to safely land the Crew Dragon when only three of the four parachutes are working.

SpaceX tweeted: "Most recent test demonstrated the parachute system's ability to land the spacecraft safely in the unlikely event that one of the four main parachutes fails". It fared very well, with thirteen successful back-to-back tests of the system. Last month, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine visited SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, where he and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk held a press conference to discuss their progress on the commercial crew program.

The company carried out a pad abort test using the redesigned parachutes in September, where the vehicle tumbles at a low altitude, before the parachute opens and stabilizes the plummeting spacecraft.

The Mark 3 parachutes use Zylon rather than nylon for the lines used in the chute, which is said to be about three times stronger than nylon. In addition to this new material, the parachutes are also sporting new stitching patterns in the fabric. SpaceX had planned a static-fire test of the Crew Dragon's for November 2, though this appears to have been pushed back with no clear timeline. After that, it's still hoping to get an in-flight abort test done before year' send, which will show how the Crew Dragon can jettison from a Falcon 9 rocket after lift-off in case of emergency.

If all that works (and that's a big "if"), NASA and SpaceX could start running the crucial Demo-2 tests to the worldwide space station with test-flight crew aboard.

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