Science and Exploration

Loading Operations for Orion Spacecraft Parachute Test

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
July 25, 2013
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Loading Operations for Orion Spacecraft Parachute Test
Loading Operations for Orion Spacecraft Parachute Test

A test version of the Orion spacecraft is loaded onto a C-17 aircraft in preparation for the 10th in a series of evaluations of its parachute system.
During the test on July 24, 2013, the mock capsule was dropped from a C-17 aircraft at its highest altitude yet, 35,000 feet above the Arizona desert. One of three massive main parachutes was cut away early on purpose, leaving the spacecraft to land with only two. The test at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground was the highest-altitude test of a human spacecraft parachute since NASA’s Apollo Program.

The test was part of a series of parachute tests that will enable NASA to certify Orion to carry humans into space. The system already has met the necessary requirements for Orion’s first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), in September 2014. During that flight, Orion will travel 3,600 miles into orbit, then return to Earth at speeds as fast as 20,000 mph, putting the parachute system to the test again as it lands in the Pacific Ocean.

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