Boeing tests space taxi; one of three parachutes does not open

  • Boeing tests space taxi; one of three parachutes does not open

Boeing tests space taxi; one of three parachutes does not open

This third generation of parachute being used for Crew Dragon uses Zylon in place of nylon, which is a polymer material originally developed by SRI and that provides the lines used in the parachute around three times the strength of nylon.

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.

The incident was set off by a leaking component and completely destroyed the capsule - a glitch that has contributed to SpaceX's delayed timeline for Crew Dragon, which it's developing for NASA. At that event, Musk said that he felt SpaceX was aiming to do "at least" 10 successful tests of its revised "Mark 3" parachute system in a row before any astronauts fly with the system in use. This test run took place with one of the Crew Dragon's four chutes disabled, to test its ability to land using just three in case of emergency. "So that seems like where the the behavior of the parachutes is consistent, is across 10 successful tests".

SpaceX has completed its 13th parachute test in a row, surpassing their goal of 10 by the end of the year. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX founder Elon Musk appeared together at SpaceX headquarters in early October to share the most recent developments of Crew Dragon project. It fared very well, with thirteen successful back-to-back tests of the system. Along with a change in material, SpaceX also changed the pattern of stitch on the parachute to improve its weight balance and distribution.

In the May test, "the three remaining chutes did not operate properly", he added. That's the thinking behind a Crew Dragon safety test SpaceX shared to Twitter on Sunday.

During this test, the craft is launched into high-altitude and is tasked with aborting the capsule during high-velocity, which is the most stressful point of the launch. While it might seem like a routine next step, an uncrewed capsule exploded during the same test just a few months ago in April.

After a delay of nearly two years, SpaceX's Crew Dragon might carry its first astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) as soon a January or February of next year.