Orion conducts final parachute drop test

The Orion Program has concluded its drop test series for the spacecraft’s parachute system, with a successful return to terra firma on Wednesday. The three chutes will allow Orion to conclude its mission with a gentle splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Ensuring the system was safe, including during the loss of a chute, has been the main goal of the test series that has been ongoing for around a decade.

The test series – conducted in Yuma’s proving grounds for the US Army in Arizona – has mainly used a boilerplate Orion spacecraft dropped out of the back of a C-17 plane.

These tests have been conducted since the early days of the Constellation Program (CxP).The tests use a Parachute Test Vehicle (PTV) system – better known as CPAS – that consists of numerous additional parachutes, required to drag the test vehicle out of the C-17 aircraft via a sledge or pallet system at altitudes ranging from 25,000 to 35,000 feet, providing the correct orientation, altitude and speed, whilst also allowing for the pallet to land safely on the ground under its own dedicated parachutes.

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