New footage shows SpaceX performing tests involving parachutes designed to bring astronauts back down to Earth. The entire process involves four large parachutes used to lower the Dragon spacecraft as it drifts back to Earth post mission.
SpaceX is a company known for making cargo runs for NASA to the International Space Station, and has been doing so since 2012. The longstanding partnership is set to extend, as NASA is (apparently) going to renew the contract long term.
In fact, NASAhas also contracted SpaceX to bring astronauts to the International Space Station, and has built a crew-rated version of the Dragon spacecraft specific to this initiative.
For this project to come to fruition, numerous tests have to be conducted; the most recent one being the parachutes, where the company placed a giant weight in place of the actual spacecraft and dropped the test chutes over Coolidge Arizona using a C-130. The tests proved to be successful and deployed as they were intended to.
Despite the test rig landing in the desert, they intend for the spacecraft to land in the ocean—this will mark the first time that astronauts will land in water since the 70s. These SpaceX missions are set to take place sometime in late 2017 or early 2018.
Simultaneously, as SpaceX is testing water landings, the company is also studying the use of jet propulsion as a way to land on solid ground or on drone ships at sea. The whole point of this focused research is to find the right technology that will allow astronauts to safely come back to Earth.
Check out SpaceX’s video of their parachute tests below.