WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA is inviting media to attend a test of the Orion spacecraft's parachutes on Wednesday, March 8, at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. Orion is scheduled for its second airdrop test, in a series of eight, to qualify the parachute system for crewed flights.
Media will have the opportunity to interview Orion engineers, see the model up close and view the test from the drop zone. To attend, media must contact Laura Rochon at firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 2.
During the test, an engineering model of the Orion spacecraft will be dropped from a C-17 aircraft flying at an altitude of 25,000 feet. This test will simulate a descent sequence astronauts might experience if they have to abort a mission after liftoff. The test sequence begins under simulated abort conditions when Orion is traveling at the relatively slow speed of about 130 mph, as compared to 310 mph for a normal end of mission Earth re-entry.
The team will focus on two primary aspects of system performance in this scenario: deployment of Orion's two drogue parachutes at low speeds, and deployment of its three main parachutes in preparation for landing.
Orion's parachutes are critical to the safe return of the spacecraft to Earth, whether during an abort sequence or at the end of a successful deep space mission. They help stabilize and slow the crew module to about 20 mph, enabling a safe splashdown in the ocean.
Orion is built to take astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before. The spacecraft will carry astronauts to space, provide emergency abort capabilities, sustain the crew during their mission and provide safe re-entry through Earth's atmosphere.
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