Today NASA announced that they will be testing the parachute system on the Orion spacecraft tomorrow.
In case you don’t know, Orion is a spacecraft from NASA that could one day be used to transport humans to Mars, or other long trips into deep space, but it doesn’t have a fancy landing system like SpaceX’s or Blue Origin’s planned system, and so it needs a parachute to drop back to Earth, safely returning astronauts to firm ground, or rather the sea.
To make sure that this system works, NASA will be testing Orion’s parachute at 9:30 a.m. EST/ 2:30 p.m. GMT from the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.
During this test, a model of Orion will be dropped from a C-17 aircraft that will fly at an altitude of 25,000 feet.
The aim will be to simulate what will happen if an abort sequence took place during the launch of Orion, which would happen should anything go wrong with NASA’s Space Launch Systems rocket, at which point the Orion would be ejected, the parachutes would deploy and drop the spacecraft back to Earth, traveling at speeds of just 130 mph.
This is thanks to Orion’s parachute system that consists of 11 parachutes, 3 forward bay cover parachutes, two drogue parachutes, and three pilot parachutes that deploy the final main parachutes, all of which can slow Orion down to just 20 mph.
Tomorrow’s test will be the second airdrop parachute tests in a series of eight tests that NASA will conduct.
But these won’t be the only tests, NASA is also hoping to fly two astronauts on a test flight of the Orion spacecraft as early as 2019.
We will update you with more information after the test has concluded.