SpaceX Completes Vital Test of Its Crew Dragon Parachutes

What would happen if a Crew Dragon parachute fails?
Chris Young

Imagine being part of a space crew coming back into the Earth's atmosphere, and suddenly, a parachute fails.

SpaceX has been running tests to mitigate this nightmare scenario by seeing if it can safely land its Crew Dragon capsule with one failed parachute out of the four that will be deployed.


Parachute tests

With its latest successful test, SpaceX showed that its Mark 3 Crew Dragon parachutes would be able to hold their weight even if not all goes according to plan.

A video of the latest test was shared on Twitter, showing what will happen if Crew Dragon starts falling back down to Earth, and one parachute isn't deployed properly — essentially, it will land safely.

The Elon Musk-founded company says it has tested the parachutes under this situation successfully a total of 13 times.

 Last month during a press conference with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, Elon Musk said that 10 successful tests would show the parachutes were working consistently.

Optimized Crew Dragon parachutes

As TechCrunch points out, the latest tests were carried out on the third generation of parachutes made for the Crew Dragon.

It uses Zylon rather than nylon, which is a polymer material developed by SRI. It gives the parachute lines approximately three times the strength of nylon. The parachute's stitching pattern was also optimized by SpaceX in order to load the balance on the new parachutes.

As Engadget reports, next up is SpaceX's abort tests.

If all goes to plan, crewed test missions could take place as early as next year, Elon Musk said last month.

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