NASA completed another successful test Wednesday of the Orion crew vehicle's parachutes high above the Arizona desert in preparation for the spacecraft's orbital flight test in 2014. Orion will carry astronauts deeper into space than ever before, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and ensure a safe re-entry and landing. A C-17 plane dropped a test version of Orion from an altitude of 25,000 feet above the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in southwestern Arizona.
This test used an Orion craft that mimics the full size and shape of the spacecraft. The main objective of the latest drop test was to determine how the entire system would respond if one of the three main parachutes inflated too quickly. Since 2007, the Orion program has conducted a vigorous parachute air and ground test program and provided the chutes for NASA's successful pad abort test in 2010. All of the tests build an understanding of the chutes' technical performance for eventual human-