Spacecraft capsules (Apollo, Orion, Dragon, Starliner, Soyuz, etc) use an arrangement of pilot, drogue, and main parachutes to land. I'm looking for details regarding how and where these parachutes (particularly the mains) are actually secured to the structure.

On Apollo, I know these were routed through the "flowerpot parachute attachment", which is essentially a manifold for all the cable strands and cutters. Within this, however, how are the individual cables retained? Was this the sole attachment point? How was the flowerpot fitting secured to the primary structure? Is this method still used on modern craft?

Starliner uses the bucket handle, I haven't seen any info on Orion's attachment, and Dragon is pretty unique coming from the side but also haven't found details on actual attachment.

Any info is much appreciated. Thanks!

Constellation Orion CEV Parachute Assembly System (NASA, via NSF)

Apollo parachute attachment

Apollo parachute attachment and disconnect fitting
(NASA Apollo experience report: Earth landing system)

Boeing Starliner Bucket Handle
Boeing Starliner Bucket Handle, February 2019 drop test (NASA)

  • $\begingroup$ I've upvoted because I think this is a neat question. However, you should indicate where you sourced those images from. Any indication of places you've already looked for information from (since it seems like you've found some) might also be useful; my initial thought is to scour through NTRS for articles marked "parachute," but if you've already done that $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Dec 7, 2023 at 3:14
  • $\begingroup$ Erin, true I've added the source for the Apollo flowerpot image which is from the Earth Landing System Experience Report on NTRS, which I've scoured for additional sources as well. Thanks for the comment! $\endgroup$
    – Retsied
    Dec 7, 2023 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ More on the flowerpot here space.stackexchange.com/a/45519/6944 with some more references. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2023 at 5:01
  • $\begingroup$ Considering that Starliner currently has some parachute troubles and is going through re-qualification testing, I would assume some neat information will become available soon. Likewise, OSIRIS-REx had some parachute troubles and the investigation will kick into full gear after the sample retrieval process is completed and the capsule released from the clean room. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2023 at 22:27

1 Answer 1


Perhaps it's too old to be of interest, but there is pretty detailed information available on the Gemini parachute landing system.

The parachute risers were connected to two bridle straps which in turn connected to the spacecraft. (The parachute system was reconfigured a few times during entry, but the final configuration had one bridle strap attached to each end of the capsule so that it descended in a more-or-less level attitude, albeit pitched up some.)

The bridle straps ended in loops through which the "arms" of the bridle disconnect assembly were inserted. These arms took the full parachute loading.

The arms were hinged at one end and held in position at the other by a pyrotechnically actuated piston. When the time came to jettison the chute, the pyrotechnics blew the piston up into the arm, This left the arm free to rotate about the hinge, so that the bridle loop could slip off the arm.

There's a good drawing of the attach system in the NASA Project Gemini Familiarization Manual (Long Range and Modified Configurations) (last page)

enter image description here

Textual details of the disconnect assemblies are from the Gemini Technical Summary page 223. This document also has an overview of the installation of the parachute attach system on page 221. enter image description here


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