NASA Orion Parachute System Tested to Its Limits

The parachute system designed for NASA's Orion spacecraft passed another hurdle on Feb. 26, in a test that put extra stress on its drogue parachutes and simulated a failure of one of its three main parachutes.

Engineers dropped a dart-shaped test vehicle that simulates Orion's parachute compartment from a C-17 flying 35,000 feet above the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. Although one test has been conducted from that height before, this was the first using the dart-shaped vehicle at that altitude. Using it along with test configuration parachutes to get it into place for the test put more stress than ever before on the two drogue parachutes that precede the main parachutes and begin the job of slowing Orion down before it lands.

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