Reading this question and this article linked in one answer, in case of two or three main parachute failure, how could super-dracos be able to slow down vertical velocity short before touchdown, since main chutes are attached to the side of the capsule, which means Dragon does not descend along its vertical axis, but with some large angle relative to its body of revolution axis?

dragon (source)

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    $\begingroup$ The Dragon capsule is designed to land safely if one of the main parachutes fails to work. It's only if two or more fail that you've got problems. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark thanks, edited this way $\endgroup$
    – user19132
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 8:18

2 Answers 2


PearsonArtPhoto answers why it isn't done - generally NASA's very conservative approach to spacecraft safety, and hurdles it would set to get it implemented.

But assuming a miraculous change in NASA management and organizational culture, it would be fairly simple.

The engines have enough thrust to provide 4g of acceleration and are angled outwards and located around the outer edge of the capsule:

enter image description here

So firing a single pair, seriously throttled, on the opposite side from the parachute would provide enough torque (against the parachute line) to right the capsule, then all the engines could fire maintaining different amount of thrust, to keep it level before splashdown. Another alternative is to just cut the parachute rope, use Draco maneuvering thrusters to stabilize the capsule and perform a regular powered landing on superdracos.

Unfortunately NASA is the one with the money, so they make the rules, and Crew Dragon likely won't see the option of powered landing in any foreseeable future.

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    $\begingroup$ I see NASAs point in this - either the Draco thrusters need to be multi-use in one mission (abort and landing) or you are carrying parachutes anyway. And if you are already under perfectly functioning parachutes, why throw them away just to use engines which might have issues... $\endgroup$
    – Moo
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 22:57

There is no plan to do this, nor has there ever been an extensively studied plan. In theory it could be done, but NASA would want to certify it, and it is just better to spend more effort to make sure the primary mode works every time.


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