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NASA Tests Orion Parachute (Result: Spectacular Failure)

Filed under the "good thing we tried it out first" department is this recent test of Shuttle-replacement Orion's parachute re-entry system. Based on the same system used for Apollo, the group of eight parachutes deploys after re-entry, ensuring the Orion capsule glides down back to terra firma for a pillow-soft landing. That's what's supposed to happen, anyway. Here, the initial chutes that position the craft for the main chutes' test (so, not a part of the final system) failed shortly after being dropped from a C-17 cargo plane at 25,000 feet. As you can see, it all goes downhill from there, terminating in "a landing that severely damaged the test mock-up." Well said, NASA-I'm guessing any test dummies inside for pressure measurements had to be scraped off the desert floor with a knife. [NASA - Thanks Travis!]


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I worked at NASA a few years ago when we were testing the X38 lifting-body reentry vehicle. It took a couple rounds of "penetration testing" (aka punching holes in the desert floor) before the parafoils got untangled.