See SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Parachutes in Action in This Epic Video Compilation

If a parade of space parachutes popping open is your thing, SpaceX has you covered. The company — which is developing a Crew Dragon spacecraft …

If a parade of space parachutes popping open is your thing, SpaceX has you covered. The company — which is developing a Crew Dragon spacecraft to bring astronauts to the International Space Station — recently released a YouTube video showing a series of successful parachute tests for its spacecraft.

The compilation shows the spacecraft being dropped from anywhere between 8,000 to 50,000 feet (roughly 2,400 to 15,000 meters) using a helicopter, a high-altitude balloon or the back door of a cargo plane. In various high-definition shots, the spacecraft falls through the air, is stabilized by a drogue parachute or two, and then the main parachutes pop open.

Cameras mounted on Crew Dragon show the performance of the three or four main parachutes as the spacecraft drifts to desert ground or — in one case — water. The spacecraft needs to pass a series of qualification tests before NASA and other authorities deem it safe enough to fly astronauts.

Related: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Demo-1 Test Flight in Pictures

Four Crew Dragon parachutes deploy during a test in this still from SpaceX's video compilation. 

Four Crew Dragon parachutes deploy during a test in this still from SpaceX’s video compilation.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

“More than 25 successful tests have been completed to demonstrate performance in various deployment conditions,” SpaceX saidin the video. (The company did not mention a failed parachute test in April. Both SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner have experienced parachute issues while preparing for commercial flights.)

While the SpaceX video focused on parachute deployment, SpaceX is pursuing many other tests to pursue its human-rating qualification for the Crew Dragon. One of these trials was putting an uncrewed spacecraft in space. The first Crew Dragon launched successfully on March 2 and later berthed with the International Space Station. Boeing’s spacecraft will do a space test of its own later this year, if all goes to plan. Launches of astronauts on both spacecraft may follow late this year, or in 2020.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow uson Twitter @Spacedotcomand on Facebook.

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SpaceX and Boeing Will Have To Wait For Approval From NASA

NASA seems to have wiped the August schedule off the board and changed it with a message that SpaceX and Boeing flight test dates for the …

In case you had August circled in your calendar to watch Boeing send its first Starliner to the International Space Station, you may be dissatisfied.

NASA seems to have wiped the August schedule off the board and changed it with a message that SpaceX and Boeing flight test dates for the Commercial Crew Programare now “under review.”

The two private corporations are both engaged on crew capsules designed to launch astronauts from US soil to the International Space Station. NASA has depended for years on Russian rockets and spacecraft to transport personnel.

NASA had been making an effort to supply more timely updates on flight test schedules. However, that strategy managed to highlight the delays. Space developments hardly ever happen on clean, linear timelines. Tests go wrong. Tools need changes. Delays are normal.

The Commercial Crew Program (CCP) has already seen its share of triumphs and stumbles. SpaceX easily and successfully accomplished its first uncrewed Demo-1 test flight to the ISS in March. However, a Crew Dragon capsule later exploded throughout a ground test in April.

“NASA and our partners need to fly astronauts as rapidly as we will without compromising the safety of our astronauts and at all times will give safety precedence over schedule,” NASA mentioned within the launch on Tuesday.

The space agency simply went via a vital leadership shakeup in July. Former astronaut Ken Bowersox took over because the administrator for the human exploration office, changing long-time leader William Gerstenmaier. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has directed the workplace to reexamine flight dates and “ship realistic schedule plans” as soon as the new leadership is in place.

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SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule arrives at space station

A SpaceX Dragon supply ship arrived at the International Space Station Saturday carrying a new docking mechanism, a spacesuit for future …
The Dragon cargo capsule in the grasp of the space station’s robotic arm Saturday. Credit: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now

A SpaceX Dragon supply ship arrived at the International Space Station Saturday carrying a new docking mechanism, a spacesuit for future spacewalks, and a 3D bioprinter to test the feasibility of manufacturing human tissue in microgravity.

Astronaut Nick Hague, at the controls of the space station’s Canadian-built robotic arm, grappled the Dragon cargo craft at 9:11 a.m. EDT (1311 GMT) Saturday as the complex soared 267 miles (429 kilometers) over the coast of southern Chile.

The Dragon spacecraft delivered 5,097 pounds (2,312 kilograms) of supplies, equipment and research investigations for the station’s six-person Expedition 60 crew.

“I want to congratulate the team across the globe that makes delivering a vehicle like this — it’s pretty looking at it out the window — to the station with science and cargo and things to keep us busy, so the mission continues,” Hague said in a transmission to mission control.

Ground controllers took command of the robotic arm later Saturday to maneuver the Dragon spacecraft to a berthing port on the space station’s Harmony module, where 16 bolts drove closed to firmly connect the cargo ship to the orbiting research outpost.

The station planned to open hatches Sunday leading into the newly-arrived cargo freighter to begin unpacking the ship’s pressurized compartment.


Today my crewmate @AstroHague and I captured the @SpaceX#Dragon, filled with over 5,000 pounds of science and supplies. Still celebrating Apollo anniversaries on @Space_Station with the #Apollo50th emblem on the Dragon vehicle. Can you spot it?

— Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) July 27, 2019

The Dragon spacecraft arrived at its destination Saturday is on its third mission to the space station, following previous trips into orbit in 2015 and 2017. It’s the first time SpaceX has flown a Dragon capsule three times.

The automated cargo carrier lifted off Thursday atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

“We’ve got about 5,000 pounds of science, critical spares, food and other items on this flight, also including, externally, the International Docking Adapter No. 3,” said Bill Spetch, NASA’s deputy manager of space station transportation integration, in a pre-launch press conference. “We’re really looking forward to getting this on there. It’s an important piece of hardware for the future of ISS as it sets the stage for how we are going operate with commercial crew vehicles and our partners in the future.”

The third International Docking Adapter, or IDA-3, will accommodate the Crew Dragon and Starliner commercial crew ferry ships in development by SpaceX and Boeing.

IDA-3 was built by Boeing to replace a unit lost during a SpaceX launch failure in 2015. SpaceX successfully delivered IDA-2 to the station in 2016, and the new docking mechanism was first used in March by SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on an unpiloted test flight before officials clear astronauts to ride the vehicle.

NASA said in 2016 it was paying Boeing $9 million to construct the replacement docking adapter using spare parts left over from the first two units.

The space station’s robotic arm will pull IDA-3 out of the Dragon cargo capsule’s unpressurized aft payload bay and place it on the space-facing zenith port of the space station’s Harmony module in mid-August, allowing Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules to park at the station at the same time, using two separate docking adapters.

“As we rotate crews through the vehicle, we want to have them time to directly hand over face-to-face, so enabling those two docked vehicles is very important,” Spetch said.

The new docking mechanisms are designed for attachment to the station’s space shuttle-era docking ports. The Crew Dragon and Starliner spacecraft employ a different docking system design than the shuttle.

Two astronauts will head outside the station next month to finish up connections between IDA-3 and the Harmony module.

The third International Docking Adapter, designed to accommodate commercial crew vehicles built by Boeing and SpaceX, was loaded inside the trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft in June. Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson

A habitat carrying 40 female mice also launched inside SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The capsule will return to Earth from its month-long mission with 20 of the mice, and specimens from the mice will distributed to medical and biological researchers to investigate how spaceflight affected the animals’ muscles, bones, immune systems and organs.

The other 20 mice will remain on the station to undergo longer exposure to microgravity.

NASA also placed a spacesuit inside the Dragon cargo craft’s pressurized module for use by astronauts on spacewalks.

Here is a breakdown of the cargo aboard the Dragon spacecraft:

  • Science Investigations: 2,628 pounds (1,192 kilograms)
  • Crew Supplies: 514 pounds (233 kilograms)
  • Spacewalk Equipment: 394 pounds (179 kilograms)
  • Vehicle Hardware: 345 pounds (157 kilograms)
  • Computer Resources: 38 pounds (17 kilograms)
  • Unpressurized Payloads (IDA-3): 1,177 pounds (534 kilograms)

Other items delivered to the station inside Dragon’s pressurized compartment include a 3D BioFabrication Facility developed by Techshot, an Indiana-based company, to demonstrate printing soft human tissue in microgravity, a capability researchers view as a stepping stone toward potentially manufacturing organs for transplant patients.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft delivered Techshot’s 3D BioFabrication Facility, seen here on the ground, to demonstrate technologies for manufacturing artificial human tissue in space. Credit: Techshot

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. also has an experiment on the Dragon supply ship. The tire manufacturer will study the formation of silica fillers, a common material used in consumer tires, in the microgravity environment of Earth orbit.

According to Goodyear, knowledge gained from the experiment will help engineers evaluate potential improvements to the silica design process and rubber formulation.

“Goodyear has been a pioneer in tire innovations related to space, with the first and only tires on the moon, numerous projects with NASA and now this,” said Eric Mizner, Goodyear’s director of global materials science, in a press release. “It underscores our passion for going to the ends of the earth — and beyond — to develop new technologies that help us deliver breakthrough products with true consumer benefits.”

Results from the space station experiment may yield improvements in fuel efficiency and other tire performance factors, according to Goodyear.

Japanese scientists also sent up an experiment to grow moss in space, seeking to compare how the plant grows in space with its behavior on Earth. Mosses could be used as a food or oxygen source on future space missions, such as bases on the moon or Mars.

The mission is SpaceX’s 18th flight to resupply the space station under a $3.04 billion cargo transportation contract with NASA. First signed in 2008, the deal covers 20 resupply missions.

SpaceX also holds separate multibillion-dollar NASA contracts for additional supply deliveries in the early 2020s, and for the development of the Crew Dragon, or Dragon 2, capsule designed to carry both cargo and astronauts.

The upgraded Dragon 2 vehicle is capable of docking directly to the space station, without relying on the robotic arm to capture it. SpaceX plans to begin using a cargo variant of the Dragon 2, similar in design to the human-rated Crew Dragon, for resupply missions next year, resulting in the retirement of the current Dragon design.

The Dragon spacecraft that arrived at the station Saturday is scheduled to depart the international research complex Aug. 27 and head for splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, returning home with research specimens and another spacesuit that requires refurbishment.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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SpaceX shows off a highlight reel of Crew Dragon parachute tests

As SpaceX continues its progress toward a Demo-2 launch of its Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts aboard the company put together this …

As SpaceX continues its progress toward a Demo-2 launch of its Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts aboard the company put together this reel of parachute tests. According to the tag, “SpaceX is returning human spaceflight capabilities to the United States with one of the safest, most advanced systems ever built.”

I didn’t spot a clip from the failed test in April, but that’s part of the reason why SpaceX is doing repeated tests from various heights and setups like the one it failed where one of the parachutes was intentionally disabled. It’s all to make sure that the system works when it’s called upon to provide a safe ocean landing for actual people. Boeing already announced the competing Starliner project has completed a qualification test for its parachute system, although both programs have faced technical issues, like the explosive incident SpaceX recently traced to an oxidizer leak.

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SpaceX shares video of multiple Crew Dragon parachute recovery system tests

SpaceX is providing a closer look at some of its Crew Dragon parachute recovery system testing, with a new video compiling footage of a number of …

SpaceX is providing a closer look at some of its Crew Dragon parachute recovery system testing, with a new video compiling footage of a number of tests, including those flown from a cargo plane and a high-altitude balloon. The video shows a test version of their Crew Dragon capsule falling through the sky over desert testing ground, and deploying the multi-parachute array it’ll employ to coast gently back to Earth after its planned missions ferrying astronauts to space.

Elon Musk’s private space company has been testing the Crew Dragon parachute system for a while now, and we don’t know too much about its progress yet, beyond that it performed an “advanced development test” in April using a metal sled in place of an actual demonstration Crew Capsule that did not meet NASA’s expectations. Regardless, the test was seen as a “good one” by both parties because of the data it provided in terms of working toward an ultimately successful system.

SpaceX shows footage from seven different tests in the highlight video it shared today, which include both reliability and qualification tests. It still has yet to announce that its parachute system is approved for flight, however, and that’s a milestone that Boeing achieved for its rival Starliner crew craft in June.

Beyond the parachute system, SpaceX is undertaking a wide range of tests in order to quality its craft for crewed flight with NASA personnel on board. The company also recently detailed progress it made into an investigation of the cause behind its failed Dragon abort engine test in April, and the steps it’s taking to remedy the issue so that it can move forward with a crewed test launch.

SpaceX had been targeting a 2019 date for its first crewed test mission for Crew Dragon, and had previously been aiming to run that mission at the end of July. At this stage, it seems increasingly unlikely that we’ll see astronauts on board a SpaceX spacecraft before the end of the year.

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