SpaceX's upgraded Crew Dragon parachutes breeze through 13 drop tests

Pablo Tucker
November 7, 2019

In late spring, it was revealed that a SpaceX parachute test that took place in April yielded unsatisfactory results.

SpaceX tested the third iteration of the parachute system on its Crew Dragon human spacecraft.

"To be clear, we've only done 1 multi-parachute test of Mk3 design, so 9 more left to reach 10 successful tests in a row", Musk tweeted on Monday.

The Crew Dragon features an advanced emergency escape system (which was tested earlier this year) to swiftly carry astronauts to safety if something were to go wrong, experiencing about the same G-forces as a ride at Disneyland.

During the test, which can be seen in the video above that SpaceX shared on Twitter, the company attempted to land the craft with its fourth parachute intentionally not deploying, to mimic a real-life parachute failure.

The drop was meant to simulate Crew Dragon's ability to navigate Crew Dragon to Earth in the event that one of its four main parachutes failed to work. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX founder Elon Musk appeared together at SpaceX headquarters in early October to share the most recent developments of Crew Dragon project.

The Mark 3 parachutes use Zylon rather than nylon for the lines used in the chute, which is said to be about three times stronger than nylon. SpaceX also updated the stitching pattern to optimize the load balance on the new parachutes.

In a tweet this month, Musk said that the both the Crew Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket created to propel it into space are on pace to finish testing in the next 10 weeks.

If all that works (and that's a big "if"), NASA and SpaceX could start running the crucial Demo-2 tests to the global space station with test-flight crew aboard.

Last year, NASA was hoping that by the end of 2019 it will be able to launch American astronauts into space from home-based launchpads.

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