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NASA Space Technology Hardware

SpaceX Successfully Tests Crew Dragon Landing Parachutes 91

SpaceX successfully tested out the parachute system it plans to use to land its Crew Dragon spaceship safely back on Earth today. By using a "mass simulator," SpaceX was able to replicate the weight and shape of the spacecraft. According to NASA, "Later tests will grow progressively more realistic to simulate as much of the actual conditions and processes the system will see during an operational mission."

The goal of the test was to evaluate the four main parachutes, but this test did not include the "drogue chutes" the full landing system will utilize. The aim is for the spacecraft to splash safely into the ocean carried down by parachutes to reduce its speed. Eventually, SpaceX intends for the spacecraft to land upright on solid ground by utilizing eight SuperDraco propulsion engines. SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral in December. Earlier this month, a SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded upon landing on a drone ship.
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SpaceX Successfully Tests Crew Dragon Landing Parachutes

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Started posting articles on 27th Jan when dice sold slashdot to SEO company BizX...

    CmdrTaco must be turning in his grave

    • Wait, Slashdot was bought by a fucking SEO company?

      I'm out.

    • I'm a new editor at Slashdot just getting my bearings. Nice to meet you all.
      • Well, for certain, your first article selection will be considered an unconventional start.

        Millenial?

      • by phayes ( 202222 )

        OK then, How about a few questions.

        Of what possible use is stating that Space-X's latest Falcon 9 1st stage recovery to a barge failed?

        Are they the same vehicles? No.

        Are the parachutes on Dragon liable to fail due to icing? No.

        Does putting a denigrating finish to an article to stir controversy make dice more money?

        • Sure. They're not the same vehicles, but they're vehicles manufactured by the same company. The events happened fairly close to each other chronologically as SpaceX ramps up their push for a successful reusable rocket program and getting a manned spacecraft into orbit. I wouldn't consider coming inches from a successful landing of a reusable rocket onto a drone ship "denigrating," however. As for whether it would make DICE more money or not, I am not sure, as we are not DICE.
          • If you're going to do landings on a small, rocking barge, any chance of getting a capture system on the barge to reduce complexity of the first stage?

            • Not needed, desired, nor practical. The last attempt landed square and true about a metre from the center of the barge. The engine shut down on time and all was well until one of the legs collapsed. If that hadn't happened, it would have been an unqualified success. Don't forget that the Falcon 9 first stage is taller than the Statue of Liberty, about the size of a twelve storey apartment building. Designing something capable of capturing it would be far more expensive than simply fixing the problem wit
              • by jnowlan ( 618290 )

                If the rocket can land that precisely, then wouldn't capturing it and getting rid of the weight of the landing gear make sense?

              • Don't forget that the Falcon 9 first stage is taller than the Statue of Liberty, about the size of a twelve storey apartment building.

                Yup, it's landing a pencil on the eraser end. Quite a trick. The barge thing needs to go away.

                • Not going to happen. The barge is needed to recover the center stage of the Falcon Heavy, and during high performance missions where there isn't enough fuel for a return to launch site mission (RTLS reduces Falcon 9 payload to orbit by about 30%)
                  • Not going to happen.

                    Is going to fail then.

                    • by notjim ( 879031 )
                      Why do we go around in circles on this; it isn't like they didn't think of it, or thought of it and decided not to do it out of cussedness - the rocket walls are thin, if they grab it hard enough to make a difference it will crumple so they need to land it which they nearly did.
                    • Save for a leg that failed to lock into place, the last attempt would have been successful. If you have some engineering data to indicate that it "will never work" I'm sure SpaceX would be happy to know.
                    • Save for a leg that failed to lock into place, the last attempt would have been successful. If you have some engineering data to indicate that it "will never work" I'm sure SpaceX would be happy to know.

                      I'm the first to admit I\m the dumbest asshole on the planet

                      So anyhow, we have a roughtly pencil shaped object that is trying to land on a platform in the ocean which moves. To land it and have an idea of some stability, the landing legs have to make an approximation of a triangle, so that the rocket doesn't tip over. I dunno where the center of gravity is in a spent Spacex first stage or booster is, but if its above the triangle it can make for problems.

                      Any rocket that falls over for any reason is a fa

                    • No stage has successfully landed on a barge, so you've never seen the part where the support team boards the barge and secures the rocket against those winds and waves you spoke about.

                      Oh, and as for that pencil analogy, due to the rockets, most of the weight is in the tail end, so the center of mass is quite low (unlike a pencil).
                    • So after the stage lands on the barge safely, is there some method of securing the stage against high winds or waves?

                      Of course there will be.

                      Immediately?

                      That would require struts of pattern-welded Unobtanium and unicorn horn.

                      If you want to have realistic accelerations, you have to include the mass of the cranes implied, the forces they exert on their bases (which will torque the floating vessel ... which you don't want). How fast and what degree of lock-down you are going to achieve requires decisions. I

                    • Teams from the nearby tug will board the barge and tack weld cleats onto the landing legs, securing it to the barge. There will be no cranes involved until they return to port to remove the stage, although Elon has proposed that further down the road, the stage will simply be secured, partially refueled, cleats removed and "hop" back to land.
                    • So you're quite happy to spout "it will never work" without knowing much of the details. - Firstly the empty stages are extremely bottom heavy as all the engines, thrust structure and plumbing are located at the base. The only mass up top are empty tanks. - Secondly, the barges when flooded are extremely stable, being able to maintain themselves within 3m even in heavy storm conditions. - Thirdly, there are many missions where a return to launch site isn't possible. The center core on a Falcon Heavy is too
                    • So you're quite happy to spout "it will never work" without knowing much of the details.

                      Negative - you must have missed it in the post you are responding to. I'll repost that part again:

                      Never work? I never said that. I am certain that with enough money poured into the project, and making live landings of these things on barges in the ocean the actual mission, they will indeed work.

                      - Firstly the empty stages are extremely bottom heavy as all the engines, thrust structure and plumbing are located at the base. The only mass up top are empty tanks.

                      I've noted that at landing, most of the mass is in the bottom. Are you just pissed that someone takes a contrary opinion? Re-read what I wrote. But the question is how much of that mass is above the triangle forme

                    • So you're quite happy to spout "it will never work" without knowing much of the details.

                      Negative - you must have missed it in the post you are responding to. I'll repost that part again:

                      Never work? I never said that. I am certain that with enough money poured into the project, and making live landings of these things on barges in the ocean the actual mission, they will indeed work.

                      You said and I quote "Is going to fail then." period, full stop. (I assume you meant they are going to fail then, or it is going to fail then)

                      - Firstly the empty stages are extremely bottom heavy as all the engines, thrust structure and plumbing are located at the base. The only mass up top are empty tanks.

                      I've noted that at landing, most of the mass is in the bottom. Are you just pissed that someone takes a contrary opinion? Re-read what I wrote. But the question is how much of that mass is above the triangle formed by the landing gear? I dunno. I ask. Is the answer that I shouldn't ask?

                      There is nothing wrong with having a contrary opinion, provided its an informed opinion. You've pretty much told us that "Is going to fail then.", but admitted that you don't really understand what SpaceX is doing, how their going about it, or the design of the Falcon 9. It's not like you need to dig that deep for much of this information. The answer is yes, most of t

                    • "Simply" tack welding cleats onto the deck and legs? Well that's going to provide a lot of restoring forces. Not.

                      That whole process is going to leave the landing weather and sea conditions as being a major constraint on operations.

                      OK - my experience is mostly North Atlantic, where a day of less than 2degrees roll and pitch is quite unusual, and normal operations can continue until about 6m of heave (plus up to 5degrees of pitch and roll) ; maybe they're going to run this system in better weather areas. Bu

                    • In most cases you're looking at within several hundred miles of the Florida or California coast (likely a bit further for Falcon Heavy core stages), we're not talking about the Grand Banks here. As well the stages are extremely bottom heavy (the vast majority of the mass is at the bottom of the rocket) and cylinders are good for deflecting wind loads (only cones are better). I'll also point out that so far, barge movement, pitching and rolling, has not been a factor in any of the failed landing attempts to
                    • Well, I've spent nearly 30 years on various mobile units in seas in various parts of the world, and still routinely see people being over-optimistic about the sea state they're going to get in a few hours. I don't know how "mill pond" the coasts of Florida and California are - but they're in the hurricane belt, aren't they? And the waves they stir up will travel outwards for days. Modelling and predicting sea state is a very fraught occupation.

                      (To be honest, when I see a "mill pond" sea, I wonder who is g

            • If you're going to do landings on a small, rocking barge

              You'd include sea state and vessel heave state (not, obviously, the same thing) at the landing site as part of your "go for launch?" call out.

              Is it obvious that sea state and heave state are not the same thing? It is to me, but I've worked at sea for decades, on both anchored and DP vessels.

            • any chance of getting a capture system on the barge to reduce complexity of the first stage?

              Hmmm. There are a lot of difficulties about that. ("difficulties," not impossibilities).

              You'll need the landing surface of your barge as unrestricted as possible. (I've mentioned previously on Slashdot the regulatory issues about sticking additional antennae onto oil rigs anywhere near the helideck ; these are real issues.) But the cranes needed for providing tie-down to secure the freshly landed craft would, of nec

          • by gerf ( 532474 )
            If you're going to veer off topic, at least post something fun, like the SpaceX lander game (unofficial) https://scratch.mit.edu/projec... [mit.edu]

            Full disclosure: I've done some work for SpaceX.

            • Am I the only one who thinks the shots in the article look suspiciously like KSP screengrabs ?
              Ill charitably assume some of the engineers are players and deliberately chose a pattern that looks like the chutes in the game. Life imitating art and all that.

              • They aren't symmetrical enough for KSP. However, I believe that KSP used the parachute design from Apollo for their inspiration, which may be why they look the same. My assumption would be that they are designed like that as it is the simplest pattern, and the colors make for high visibility to see when there are issues and be able to figure out why.

                https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

                Though it looks like the Apollo chutes have more alternating color sections than KSP or this one.

                https://www.google.com/searc [google.com]

        • Does putting a denigrating finish to an article to stir controversy make dice more money?

          No. Dice will not be making any more money from Slashdot. They sold it.

          • by phayes ( 202222 )

            The sale to Bizx doesn't explain the useless denigrating finish to to the summary that _wasn't_ in TFA.

            It remains to be seen whether bizx will be positive (fewer Timmay style summaries/subjets) or whether bizx with it's "reports from credible sources of layoffs at Slashdot, with many longtime employees being shown the door, with their jobs either eliminated or handed over to less costly and relatively inexperienced staff" becomes /.'s swan song.

            • "reports from credible sources of layoffs at Slashdot, with many longtime employees being shown the door, with their jobs either eliminated or handed over to less costly and relatively inexperienced staff" becomes /.'s swan song.

              Is this just meant as a possibility, or do you have actual evidence of this happening?

              • by phayes ( 202222 )

                http://meta.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org] posted on /.'s main page 13 HOURS before your comment has a link in the summary to http://fossforce.com/2016/01/s... [fossforce.com] from which the text was taken.

                Yeah, this is the modern /. where people refuse to read TFAs but really...

                • Um, what does Slashdot being sold have to do with layoffs?

                  I was asking specifically about staff being shown the door, not the transfer of ownership.

                  • by phayes ( 202222 )

                    If you are incapable of understanding that layoffs very often happen after transfers of ownership then there is nothing anyone can do to help you.

                    If you seek to dispute what fossforce.com reported, take it up with them.

                    • So, what you are saying is that Christine Hall at Foss Force made shit up, and has no citations for actually layoffs?

                      She gives no information in that article about credible sources, just makes wild ass accusations. Yes, some mergers result in layoffs, but that isn't what is being said in that article or your post, Christine and you are claiming that the layoffs aren't just theoretically possible, but that they already occurred, and credible sources are talking about them.

                      I guess your answer is "I have no c

                    • by phayes ( 202222 )

                      No troll boy, I've told you that I found information from a reference posted by timmay that you were too lazy to even read.

                      I don't care much anymore about ./ because I've seen it fall far from what it once was. You don't like the implications of /. changing hands yet again but instead of having an intelligent reaction, looking up your own sources and bringing them to the discussion your reaction is to blame the messenger.

                      It's assholes like you that are the reason /. no longer matters.

        • OK then, How about a few questions.

          I only have one - Why aren't you writing the stuff?

          • by phayes ( 202222 )

            I stopped submitting articles years back when Timmay & co ignored my submissions and chose to publish the same subjects (& sometimes even the same original sources) from later submitters that added on pejorative bait-click opinions instead of just presenting the facts.

            • I stopped submitting articles years back when Timmay & co ignored my submissions and chose to publish the same subjects (& sometimes even the same original sources) from later submitters that added on pejorative bait-click opinions instead of just presenting the facts.

              I wonder if there will be a drop off in the Women in Stem clickbait articles? Hope springs eternal!

  • I have successfully tested my interstellar propulsion system that's going to totally power a manned mission to Cygni. Here is a video of the successful test:

    https://youtu.be/F-nlZQfFYfA [youtu.be]

  • details, details (Score:5, Informative)

    by xeno ( 2667 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @09:51PM (#51393091)

    "SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded upon landing on a drone ship" is not quite accurate...

    In December, SpaceX lanuched a Falcon9 rocket with a series of successes: successful launch of the whole rocket, successful landing (on land) of stage1, successfully reaching orbit on stage2, insertion of 11 satellites into sustainable orbits, etc etc. It was a good day for them.

    A couple weeks ago, they launched another (slightly older design) Falcon9, *mostly* successfully: Launch was good, stage 1 separation and return to landing spot (this time on a modified barge) was successful, stage 2 was good, payload was good, etc etc. The failure was that immediately after landing on the barge, the stage 1 fell over because one of the landing legs failed to lock. So yeah, the stage 1 exploded... /after/ successfully landing on a tiny dot in the middle of the ocean. These guys are making huge strides forward in reusable spaceflight, so it's hardly fair to dismiss the whole thing as "exploded upon landing" because of a mechanical leg failure after the damn thing landed and powered off.

    • by NReitzel ( 77941 )

      I agree, Using the terms "exploded on landing" is PressSpeak, "If it Bleeds, It Leads".

      Having said that, the landing legs sort of have to work.

      What do you suppose the time frame is for "successful landing" ? If they stick then landing, and a typhoon dumps the booster in the drink, do you suppose the reporters will say "Booster Sank in Ocean while Trying to Land" ?

      • I agree, Using the terms "exploded on landing" is PressSpeak, "If it Bleeds, It Leads".

        Having said that, the landing legs sort of have to work.

        What do you suppose the time frame is for "successful landing" ? If they stick then landing, and a typhoon dumps the booster in the drink, do you suppose the reporters will say "Booster Sank in Ocean while Trying to Land" ?

        Which of course is why landing on a barge in the ocean is sort of ridiculous in my estimation.

        One of the first things is I don't look at this as failures, its more learning experiences.

        But the second thing is I'm convinced that Spacex is taking on some new things too fast, and multiple things at the same time. And lest we go to Newspeak - my criticisms and observations do not detract from my being a fan of Spacex

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      "SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded upon landing on a drone ship" is not quite accurate...

      Semantics.... if this was say a passenger plane and it touched down, the landing gear failed to lock and it crashed into the ground and exploded we'd call that "upon landing", even though it was no longer in flight. You've landed when you've come to a complete stop, which the rocket never did. Almost doesn't count when it goes boom.

      • Well, except the part where the rocket did come to a https://www.instagram.com/p/BAqirNbwEc0/ [slashdot.org].
      • Except that if it were a passenger plane, it took off, landed, delivered passengers and luggage to their destinations (pilots too), took off again, landed to an airport in the middle of the desert, stopped, engines off, then some gear failed, it fell, then caught fire, and exploded.
        It DOES count when and where it goes boom. If it had exploded when it took of it would have been a disaster, now it is a minor nuisance.
    • These guys are making huge strides forward in reusable spaceflight, so it's hardly fair to dismiss the whole thing as "exploded upon landing" because of a mechanical leg failure after the damn thing landed and powered off.

      Yes, it's fair. Because it did explode after landing. What you are complaining about is the reaction of people who have some axe to grind with Spacex.

      From the rocketry standpoint, Spacex is doing some very cool stuff landing these candles. So much has almost worked. One at least was an unqualified success. My concerns such as they are is that there have been a fair number of mechanical issues, and they are learning a lot of things NASA has learned over the years.

      Best way to put it?

      This shit ain't eas

  • Why just use the parachutes from Star Wars 7's tie fighter - those seemed to work pretty well for 2 of the 3 members of our new multicultural good guys. (The last person we saw walk away from a crash like that was Starbuck, and that was never well explained.)

    • - those seemed to work pretty well for 2 of the 3 members of our new multicultural good guys.

      Did you miss the part later in the movie where the pilot was at the base? Both of the people in the Tie survived the crash. In fact, the pilot survived the impact while still in the Tie Fighter.

  • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @10:45PM (#51393251) Journal

    SpaceX love fourfold symmetry: octagonal layout of stage 1 rockets (plus one central, for 9 total). Four landing legs. Four steering fins at the top of stage I. Four pairs of "super Draco" landing/abort rockets on the Dragon. And now, four chutes.

  • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @10:54PM (#51393277) Journal

    There is a thing that these chutes do, where on initial deployment the open aperture of the chute is quite small, and the chute looks rather like a sausage. Then later on, the chute abruptly opens fully, and looks like a hemisphere. (The transition wasn't shown in the video in TFA, but I've seen it elsewhere and it is also simulated in Kerbal Space Program.)

    How is this achieved? Is it some clever aerodynamics where the chute has two stable configurations and a 'catastrophic' transition? Is there some rope which constrains the aperture early on and then is somehow severed to allow fully deployment?

    (I understand why - the first configuration slows the payload sufficiently so that the chute is not torn apart when it fully deploys. "How" is what I don't know.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 29, 2016 @12:30AM (#51393831)

      In a typical, human-carrying parachute, there's a gizmo called the slider that handles this.
      The point (if it isn't obvious), is two fold: (1) minimize stresses on the parachute and risers
      during the parachute's opening/deceleration; and (2) minimize the stresses on the human/cargo
      that would be induced by decelerating from terminal velocity (~120 MPH IAS) to ~10 MPH.

      The slider, on modern "square" chutes, is a rectangular piece of cloth with grommets on
      each corner, through which the parachute's risers run. The slider is run all the way up
      the risers to the parachute, and packed that way. When the rip-cord is pulled, a spring
      ejects a drogue parachute (for single person parachutes only; tandem parachutes work
      differently), which pulls out the canopy. The canopy then tries to inflate, but the riser
      prevents it from expanding to its full size. As the canopy slows, it inflates, and the
      increasing size gives it more leverage/angle on the risers to force the slider downwards,
      allowing the canopy to expand more.

      Eventually the slider reaches a mechanical stop on the risers (usually just above the
      parachutist's head), and the canopy is fully deployed.

      Even with the slider, the canopy opening is quite a jarring event.

      • Thanks.

        It sounds like this system relies critically on the coefficient of friction between the slider grommets and the risers. Too high, and the slider never (or incompletely) slides and the chute does not fully inflate. Too low, and it inflates too fast and soon, bruising or breaking the parachutist or, worse, ripping the chute.

        From the abruptness of the transition between slightly inflated and fully inflated in the space capsule chutes, and the prolonged delay before this occurs, I suspect the friction me

    • How is this achieved? Is it some clever aerodynamics where the chute has two stable configurations and a 'catastrophic' transition? Is there some rope which constrains the aperture early on and then is somehow severed to allow fully deployment?

      The process is called reefing.
       
      Rings of cable woven into the parachute hold it in the "sausage" shape, they're then cut with explosive cutters (or released by explosive releases) and the parachute expands to it's final configuration.

    • by Abroun ( 795507 )
      The Cirrus CAPS system has a similar deployment pattern (it's an emergency parachute for a light aircraft). It works by a sliding collar on the risers (the strings) which starts near the bottom of the canopy, and is pulled down the strings towards the plane as the canopy inflates, making the whole deployment more gradual.
  • I don't understand what's going on with SpaceX. Back in May, they did a pad abort test, which is a full up systems test with as close to actual flight hardware as possible. Then in November they do, not a live hover test, but a captive hover test (indicating that they don't trust the dragon's control software not to crash the thing). Now they are doing a parachute test using a block of metal. Not a parachute deploy from a dragon mockup, but they just heaved a chunk of metal with parachutes attached out
    • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @10:42AM (#51395847)
      The pad abort test didn't need high speed parachutes. The in flight abort test does. The pad abort test landing in water, so it didn't need the hover capability. Future attempts will be made on land. These tests are being conducted to prepare for the MaxQ in flight abort test.
    • Now they are doing a parachute test using a block of metal. Not a parachute deploy from a dragon mockup, but they just heaved a chunk of metal with parachutes attached out of the back of a plane.

      Are they working backwards in time or something? ... So what's with the backwards schedule?

      They almost certainly are not working backwards. But yeah, landing a block of metal can sure seem that way. With all the different parts they are working with, there might be improvements on previous systems - think about all the incremental improvements on the F-1 engines.

      So who knows? A new chute design to address a shortcoming? Something they didn't want to risk a capsule on? A lot of different tests going on

    • All the tests are testing separate things. It does not matter when they are tested, as long as the work before crewed flights.

      3. Test the SuperDracos and overall system ability to quickly get away from a coming explosion. Nothing to do with parachutes, aside from getting enough altitude for future parachutes to work.
      2. Test SuperDracos throttle functionality and its damage to Dragon by doing hover and drop tests. No parachutes, and harder than pad abort test.
      1. Test the backup system (parachutes) capabi

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