Skydivers normally wear a backup parachute. Apollo 15 survived with two out of three parachutes working properly. But wouldn't it be great to have a second deployment option, like skydivers do? The deployment maneuver itself must be a huge part of the risks with parachute landings from space. AFAIK reserve parachutes have never been used in space travel. Is the mass penalty of an independent secondary parachute system so big that it is easier to instead make sure it works every time?

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    $\begingroup$ Soyuz definitely has a reserve chute. $\endgroup$ – SF. Oct 19 '17 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ The third parachute of apollos were the reserve : only two parachutes were needed for the landing, but three were packed and deployed. $\endgroup$ – Quentin Oct 19 '17 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that Apollo designers chose redundancy over backup. $\endgroup$ – Quentin Oct 19 '17 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ The Orion parachute system weighs 1200 lbs for a vehicle weight of 17k lbs. Doubling that for a second set would reduce the payload considerably. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Oct 19 '17 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ @SF. Indeed, so it seems to have! Its attempted deployment didn't save Komarov on Soyuz 1 and its accidental deployment on the Soyuz 23 having landed in a lake wasn't helpful. And all of the time it increases risk by putting more mass on the spacecraft. Stacking redundancies on top of each other maybe doesn't provide more safety. Soyuz is the safest spacecraft ever, but not thanks to its reserve set of parachutes. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Oct 19 '17 at 16:14

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