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Space Science

SpaceX Completes Dragon Parachute Test 83

Posted by timothy
from the here-be-drougeans dept.
mattclar writes "SpaceX just released footage and pictures of last week's Dragon parachute drop test. Using an Erickson Air-Crane, the Dragon capsule was carried to 14,000 feet, then released. After a few seconds of freefall, the drouge chutes appeared, followed by the main chutes. The test concluded with a gentle touchdown within the target area to conclude a test described by SpaceX as '100% successful.'"
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SpaceX Completes Dragon Parachute Test

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  • Re:Not level (Score:5, Informative)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @02:46AM (#33322102)

    This ties in with the overall design of the Dragon capsule, which is designed to re-enter with a non-perpendicular angle of attack: presumably to provide some lift to allow some cross-range maneuvering, though it might also help the ergonomics inside the capsule. The heat shield and everything else is designed asymmetrically: presumably the parachutes are set up the same way.

    http://www.spacex.com/00Graphics/Images/Dec07%20Web%20Update/17.jpg [spacex.com]
    http://www.spacex.com/00Graphics/Images/Dec07%20Web%20Update/19.jpg [spacex.com]

  • Drouge? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Red_Chaos1 (95148) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @02:53AM (#33322124)
    What is a Drouge [reference.com]? Perhaps that should say drogue [reference.com] instead? $lt;/Grammar nazi$gt;
  • Re:Not level (Score:3, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @04:42AM (#33322370) Homepage Journal

    They should try a Rogallo wing [wikipedia.org]. You can flare it close to the ground and get a (fairly) soft landing. A wing similar to modern parasails would give similar results.

  • Re:Nice... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:38AM (#33322876)
    If my goal was to build the worlds fastest car would you be pissed at me building a car seat? It isn't exciting as a new engine or anything like that but they have to make one.

    Also, their launch costs (listed on their site) to LEO are $2.3k/lb for cargo ($5.5k/lb to GTO). They aren't sending people up yet since their spacecraft isn't ready yet. And coincidentally this story is about them currently working on the dragon spacecraft (which is what they are sending people up in). So they ARE working on exactly what you want.....
  • Re:Nice... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Saturday August 21, 2010 @08:14AM (#33323034) Homepage Journal

    As if SpaceX is having a problem with getting stuff into space. If they were having some serious problems with getting that task accomplished, I would agree that this test would be a relatively non-issue...

    But the vehicle for getting into space has already flown that this capsule is going to be sitting on top of. I should note here too that SpaceX has also announced with this test what the flight profile is going to be like for the next Falcon 9 flight:

    During the Dragon's orbital shakedown later this year, the ship will cruise around Earth between one and three times, fire its Draco maneuvering thrusters and fall into the Pacific Ocean somewhere off the coast of Los Angeles near the Channel Islands.

    The flight could last from less than two hours to five hours, depending on SpaceX's final decision on its duration.

    --- Spaceflight Now [spaceflightnow.com]

    This drop test was mainly to test the parachute system and to establish the recovery procedures for when this next flight is going to happen that will make it to orbit. Rather than using an entire Air Carrier task force from the U.S. Navy (how the Apollo and Gemini capsules were recovered), SpaceX is using a fleet of three boats that are all about the size of the S.S. Minnow from Gilligan's Island. That is a huge deal and I hope the cost savings for that difference in the recovery fleet should be glaringly obvious.

    The point here too is that SpaceX is very close to having a full fledged spacecraft that can go up into space, maneuver around while up there, and safely bring cargo back down from orbit. Besides the Soyuz, Space Shuttle, and Shenzhou spacecraft, the Dragon will be the only one currently capable of doing that sort of mission profile. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle next year, the Dragon will be the only American spacecraft to be capable of doing this and it will also be only the second vehicle that you can put money onto the table to simply purchase a flight into space (after the Soyuz). Given the reluctance of the Russians to permit that kind of flight and the demand they have for at least two Russian cosmonauts to be involved, the Dragon offers an even more unique perspective for being able to bring stuff back home or to go up into space if you need a pressurized cargo capacity.

    Yes, both Orbital Science and Boeing are in the process of building orbital spacecraft that will be capable of returning back to the Earth.... but at what stage in the development of those vehicles are they at? What is NASA working on for their own space-capable vehicle? Please don't tell me that the Ares I with the Orion capsule is going to be oh so much better.... if that is even going to be built at all.

  • Re:Nice... (Score:4, Informative)

    by FleaPlus (6935) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @11:09AM (#33324498) Journal

    Also, their launch costs (listed on their site) to LEO are $2.3k/lb for cargo ($5.5k/lb to GTO).

    It's also worth noting that this is their launch price, not their cost. They actually expect to make a decent profit at this price, and Elon has stated that he plans on lowering the price further as he gets into mass production and successful reuse of rocket components.

  • Re:Nice... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Saturday August 21, 2010 @04:27PM (#33327360) Homepage Journal

    I think this is the test you were talking about:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/08/orion-test-para/ [wired.com]

    The picture in that test is a bit ugly too, and I'd be glad that my life didn't depend upon the parachutes working. For those posters on this story that assert this was a "useless" test that didn't really prove anything, I hope that at least some of those would be pointed to this story to see what happens when a test of this nature goes wrong. I certainly wouldn't want to be in a capsule if the kind of damage in the photograph happened to me. Landing in the water at those speeds has nearly the same kind of impact damage as hitting land too, but you get to drown if you somehow survive.

    And the advocates for Ares/Orion continue to assert theirs is a better program... with "the best minds on the planet" helping to design that vehicle? The best lobbyists in Washington D.C. perhaps...

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