NASA said it is inviting media to attend a test of the Orion spacecraft´s parachutes on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at the US Army´s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.
An engineering model of the spacecraft will drop from an airplane 35,000 feet up to evaluate how it fares when the parachute system does not perform as expected.
During the test, Orion engineers will carry out a scenario in which one of the spacecraft´s two drogue parachutes and one of its three main parachutes fail. This high-risk assessment is the penultimate drop test of the scheduled engineering evaluations leading up to next year´s tests to qualify the parachute system for crewed flights.
Media will have the opportunity to interview Orion engineers, see the model up close and view the test from the drop zone.
Orion´s parachutes, critical to the safe return of the spacecraft to Earth, performed flawlessly during the spacecraft´s uncrewed flight test in December 2014, helping slow the capsule from its high-speed re-entry through Earth´s atmosphere from approximately 20,000 mph to about 20 mph when the spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.
The Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they´ve ever gone before, including to an asteroid and Mars. The spacecraft will serve as the exploration vehicle that carrier crews to space, provides emergency abort capabilities, sustains the crew during space travel, and provides safe re-entry from deep space. Orion will launch on NASA´s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System.