SpaceX tests parachutes to bring astronauts back from ISS

By Digit NewsDesk | Published on Jan 28 2016
SpaceX tests parachutes to bring astronauts back from ISS
HIGHLIGHTS

While the tests went successfully, SpaceX wants to use the parachutes only for emergencies, with propulsion being the primary method for landing.

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX has successfully tested parachutes that are aimed at bringing its Crew Dragon spacecraft back to Earth. The company completed the test for four large parachutes yesterday, with NASA publishing a video of the test. The video shows the large parachutes slowing down a test spacecraft. SpaceX has been employed by NASA, to make cargo runs to and from the International Space Station (ISS) since 2012 now. The premier space agency is also going to use SpaceX for shuttling astronauts to and from the ISS in future. The Crew Dragon spacecraft is being built for this reason.

The parachute test was one of many that the company needs to pass, before it is ready to send astronauts to space in the Crew Dragon. While SpaceX didn’t use the actual spacecraft, a giant weight was used in its place. The entire rig was then dropped from a C-130 aircraft over the Coolidge, Arizona area and the four parachutes deployed correctly, to reduce the speed of the falling rig. While the rig landed somewhere in the desert, the final plan is to have the spacecraft land in the ocean, which, if achieved, would mark the first time that astronauts would have landed on water since the 1970s.

The missions testing the landing of the spacecraft are reportedly going to be conducted in late 2017 to early 2018. Parachute assisted landing is one of the ways that SpaceX is testing, with the other being propulsive landings, which was seen in a video that was published last week. This was achieved using the built-in SuperDraco rocket engines. SpaceX reportedly wants to use the parachutes for emergency purposes, with the propulsive method being the primary landing mechanism. 

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