Airborne Systems technology brings Space-X spacecraft to safe splashdown
Santa Ana, CA, USA - 8 December, 2010
Three giant parachutes designed and made by the Airborne Systems North America Space and Recovery Group were deployed to soft land the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft’s highly successful maiden flight, which ended in the Pacific Ocean off the Mexican coast after two orbits of the Earth.
Although no-one was on board the Dragon space capsule, which was blasted into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the demonstration launch, flight and recovery have been welcomed as proof that commercial companies could carry astronauts into space and supply the International Space Station (ISS).
Airborne Systems, a world leader in parachute design and technology designed, developed and manufactured the Entry Descent and Landing System (EDLS) for the Dragon spacecraft. The Dragon EDLS consists of two 19ft mortar-deployed drogue ribbon parachutes, and three 116ft ringsail parachutes. Thanks to its dual redundant design the EDLS meets the safety and reliability requirements for future manned missions to space. The drogue parachutes were successfully deployed at 40,000 ft., beginning the spacecraft’s descent under parachutes. After approximately one minute of decelerating under the two drogue parachutes they were released from the craft and the main parachute system was deployed slowing the descent of the spacecraft to 18ft/sec for its final descent and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean about 500 miles West of Mexico.
Robert Shiley II, VP General Manager, Airborne Systems Space and Recovery, said: “The success of the Dragon spacecraft also marks another successful day in space for Airborne Systems. We have been involved in space recovery systems for 50 years and look forward to working with SpaceX on many more Dragon flights.”
The next stage in the program is for a fly-by of the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a five-day mission in which the Dragon will approach within six miles of the orbiting station and may dock with the station if approval by NASA is given to combine the requirements of the next two demonstration flights. Actual cargo missions to the ISS are planned for 2011.