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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:Nice... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by osu-neko (2604) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @03:14AM (#33322178)
    Getting people home safely is part of the cost of getting them into space, unless you're planning for strictly one-way trips.
  • Re:Nice... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Arlet (29997) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @03:32AM (#33322222)

    There's not much that you can do to improve fundamental technology to go into space, but they can still try to make things as cheap and low-weight as possible. Every kilogram that you take off the re-entry system is another kilogram of useful payload that you can take up.

  • by rts008 (812749) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @04:25AM (#33322324) Journal

    As someone who wasn't alive during the Apollo years, it's pretty exciting for me to see a company that might actually make travel to space sustainable.

    As someone who was alive during the Apollo years[and the Mercury and Gemini years], I agree wholeheartedly; it was, and still is exciting. [spacex.com] [I got the same goosebumps on launch, and was amazed at the vid quality and abundance!]

    And you youngsters get added bonuses:
    1. Better and higher quality coverage of the 'into space' events[see linked video in TFS]. Almost/or real time!
    2. The internet.[see above]
    3. Competition to drive 'Rocket Scientists®' to innovate again. 'Back then', it was USA astronauts vs. USSR cosmonauts...no holds barred. Now, it is similar, again no holds barred.
    4. Maybe your favorite astronaut has a facebook page, or a twitter tweet? ;-)
    5. Almost obligatory:
          'And you get to get off my lawn!' ;-)
    6. Did I mention the internet?

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

    by goodmanj (234846) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @05:13AM (#33322434)

    Mercury: big round parachute. Gemini: big round parachute. Apollo: 3 big round parachutes. Soyuz: big round parachute. Viking, Pathfinder, Spirit/Opportunity: big round parachutes.

    Self-deploying Rogallo wing: a couple of grainy Apollo-era NASA development photos, a few small-scale models built by enthusiasts, never actually used in a mission-critical application.

    Given that SpaceX's goal is to get into space reliably and cheaply, not to spend billions reinventing the parachute, which would you pick?

    Parasails are more feasible, but 3 big round parachutes have one clear advantage: if one fails, you can land on the other two. You can't deploy multiple parasails from the same vehicle.

  • Re:Not level (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:52AM (#33322930) Homepage Journal

    Partial aerobrake with retro-rockets for the final touchdown are possible, but then you don't save anything.

    Thats what I mean. What you save is the mass of a heavy launch escape system. The Apollo LES was huge because it had to lift the CM high enough for the parachutes to work. If you build in thrusters which can land the vehicle then they function as an LES as well as a landing system. It gives you more control over your landing site too.

  • Re:It's SO GREAT! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tsotha (720379) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @08:21AM (#33323080)
    "It's ooooooold" is relevant to fashion, but not so much to engineering. The shuttle was a blind alley that set us back thirty years and untold billions. It's time to get the space program back on track, and that means capsules.
  • by voss (52565) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @08:28AM (#33323122)

    Wheels are simple and they work. Cheap and good enough beats state of the art everytime.
    What SpaceX is trying to do is move away from expensive overly complicated launchers to
    simpler more reliable less expensive ones.

     

  • I suppose we're going to repeat going back to the moon next as a grand finale.

    The problem with Apollo 17 was the fact that it was a finale. NASA took some amazing hardware that could go places, and then simply threw it away like yesterday's garbage. There were a number of projects developed with the Apollo Applications Program [wikipedia.org] that I believe could have been flown at a sustainable rate with the funds that ended up going to the Space Shuttle.

    Admittedly this is with 20/20 hindsight, but for the cost that NASA dumped into the Shuttle program, they could have flown more astronauts, put more tonnage into space (including the construction of something the size of the ISS) and perhaps even reduced the cost of access to space considerably had they simply stuck with the Apollo family of spacecraft over the past 40 years. Even now, all these years later, the Apollo hardware is looking very good and a very elegant design solution to a very tough engineering problem. Compared to the Soyuz spacecraft it still looks sleek, shiny, and modern.... but the Soyuz spacecraft are still flying and the Apollo spacecraft aren't.

    The reason why a "splashdown" in the Pacific is being redone here is because it works. If the goal is to get into space and come home safely.... how else do you propose to get the job done? Are you sure that will be cheaper and be ready to fly by next year?

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