58 votes
Accepted

What skipped test on Genesis would have detected the backwards-inserted accelerometer which didn't deploy the parachute?

The planned test was a centrifuge test. They were going to take the entry vehicle up past the 10-g mark and back down. According to the JPL Mission Manager, who was my boss at the time, the g-switch ...
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  • 17.9k
41 votes
Accepted

Why does Blue Origin claim Virgin Galactic's spaceplane doesn’t have an escape system whereas Virgin Galactic's passengers are wearing parachutes?

First of all, it should be clear that this infographic is by no means objective; it's designed to put SS2 in the worst possible light, and New Shepard in the best. That said, an "escape system&...
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39 votes

Why do you need a heat shield on Mars entry if the atmosphere is so thin?

There is an atmosphere on Mars. An atmosphere ~1% as thick as Earth's sounds like it ought to 'basically not count as an atmosphere' but 1% earth's atmosphere is still quite a lot of gas! The pressure ...
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  • 6,067
37 votes
Accepted

Could one skydive from a space capsule that just had a parachute failure during re-entry?

Would you even be able to open the door? It would depend on the capsule, but since the Apollo 1 fire, one expects crewed American capsules to have explosively-jettisoned hatches that can be ...
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27 votes
Accepted

Why is InSight's nylon parachute a "soft good"?

I'm pretty sure that by "soft good" he means it's an element of the system that can't be completely constrained from a simulation or engineering standpoint, in this case fabric. If you're working with ...
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  • 14.6k
24 votes

Why no parachutes in the Orion AA2 abort test?

The test they were doing didn’t require parachutes. Data-taking ended right after the capsule separated from the tower. Since the capsule’s behavior after that was not part of the test, it could be an ...
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  • 12.3k
23 votes

Why is it even desirable for a spacecraft to land without a parachute?

If you're just looking at it as a mass trade, then yes, you will definitely get a mass savings by replacing a portion of your propellant with a bag full of nylon. Depending on your speed, the nylon ...
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  • 57.5k
18 votes

How does a landing spacecraft control main parachute inflation?

I don't know what Dragon uses, but large air-drop parachutes use a "reefing" technique. There's a "reefing line" around the circumference of the parachute that controls its expansion: The (...
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  • 12.3k
18 votes
Accepted

Why does the Soyuz parachute pulsate?

Thanks to the paper linked by Jan Doggen in the comments we can say that it is a natural outcome of the shape of the parachute. In particular, the shape, together with the near absence of wind and ...
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  • 970
17 votes
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In multiple parachutes, is each offset by a weight/hole?

Those dark objects are the deployment bags which contained the main parachutes prior to inflation. Source: The Apollo Parachute Landing System Also from Apollo 15 Main Parachute Failure Anomaly ...
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17 votes

Why do you need a heat shield on Mars entry if the atmosphere is so thin?

An atmosphere does not need to be very thick to heat up a reentry vehicle significantly. And it should be noted that reentry vehicles entering the Earth's atmosphere get heated up at a pretty high ...
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  • 7,716
16 votes
Accepted

Why is it even desirable for a spacecraft to land without a parachute?

Note that this answer refers to the final flight version of the Dragon V2. The first powered landings will be using parachutes before the system is validated for powered-only landing (see this article,...
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  • 4,300
16 votes

Could one skydive from a space capsule that just had a parachute failure during re-entry?

The Red Bull Stratos jump was done from about 39km up (high altitude balloon). It was fairly straightforward, in that he jumped and opened a parachute. His max speed was just above mach 1 (800mph/...
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  • 6,488
15 votes

Why is it even desirable for a spacecraft to land without a parachute?

E. Musk has answered this multiple times in interviews. This comes down to the economics of it. They are putting this entire system together to haul cargo, and the reusable portion is there to ...
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  • 151
15 votes

Why no parachutes in the Orion AA2 abort test?

From the article: Tuesday’s launch was more focused on testing the launch abort system itself. The parachutes on Orion have been tested 47 times.
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  • 251
14 votes

Why does the Soyuz parachute pulsate?

It is called parachute "breathing", and is quite common. It is a natural consequence of the flexibility of the parachute shape. It is initiated in the initial inflation, where the parachute will ...
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  • 57.5k
13 votes
Accepted

What happens to Insight's parachute on Mars?

I'm pretty sure it will be like the Phoenix lander. Collectively that part of the lander is referred to as the "Backshell". This is the image of Phoenix of the hardware on the surface. This is ...
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  • 118k
12 votes
Accepted

What makes it so hard to precisely land a fairing?

The fairing itself is large, (a pair can enclose a school bus sized payload) and is very light, and not very aerodynamic when split into two halves. When joined together it is very aerodynamic, when ...
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  • 76.4k
12 votes

Why no parachutes in the Orion AA2 abort test?

This is not a complete answer as I do not know the status of the parachute development, but here are some reasons a parachute is not needed: Ejected Data Recorders: These ~20 data recorders, ...
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11 votes

Why does the Soyuz spacecraft's parachute have so many lines?

All round parachutes have many suspension lines, and they're needed to distribute the load on the canopy, keep its shape, and their hooking (or even re-hooking) geometry during deployment can help ...
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  • 75.3k
11 votes

What happens to Insight's parachute on Mars?

During the parachute descent, InSight's trajectory is at an angle to the vertical. After the backshell and parachute separate, the engines fire, leveling the craft. This allows some horizontal ...
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  • 46.3k
11 votes

Why can't you just parachute down right from orbit?

Another factor: Acme delivers you an unobtanium chute that can take all the forces involved. What happens? Your objective is hard braking at high altitude. You slow down, you're not in orbit ...
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11 votes
Accepted

How exactly were solid-fuel rockets added to the parachute lines of the Voskhod capsule?

I found a diagram that explains it better than words. The landing rocket module was at the base of the parachute lines, not above them: The linkage appears to be hinged, but I'm guessing it's a solid ...
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11 votes
Accepted

Why no parachutes in the Orion AA2 abort test?

Here's an official response: NASA has already fully qualified the parachute system for flights with crew through an extensive series of 17 developmental tests and 8 qualification tests completed at ...
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11 votes

Why do you need a heat shield on Mars entry if the atmosphere is so thin?

Already a lot of good answers, so just one additional aspect to the explanation: When orbiting Mars, the vehicle has a lot of kinetic energy that has to be reduced to zero before landing. Coming from ...
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10 votes

Why can't you just parachute down right from orbit?

(Handwavy instead of quantitative... Would be nice to have some better numbers) The fundamental reason is that there are currently only three techniques to keep you or your craft from hitting the ...
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  • 5,742
10 votes

Why does Soyuz use a single large parachute vs 3 on most American capsules?

According to spaceflight101: [The Soyuz capsule] is outfitted with the spacecraft's fully redundant parachute system [...] I would assume that the designers needed to keep a certain precision for ...
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9 votes

Why does Blue Origin claim Virgin Galactic's spaceplane doesn’t have an escape system whereas Virgin Galactic's passengers are wearing parachutes?

Because this isn't an informational infographic. This is an ad. And, as such, it is deliberately skewed to paint the advertised product in the best possible light, while disparaging the competing ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Modelling for the LDSD parachute - what are the issues with scale models and software simulations?

The scale model of a vehicle with a SIAD for use, for example, in a ballistic range is made out of steel. This is ok, because the SIAD will not significantly change shape in flight. The shape of a ...
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  • 57.5k
7 votes

Why can't you just parachute down right from orbit?

You want to "do most of the braking very high up in the atmosphere where the density is still extremely low" using a parachute? If you want to leave orbit and stay high up in the atmosphere until the ...
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  • 46k

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