Mars parachute fails NASA test for second time

Giant parachute deploys but disintegrates following inflation

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

A new parachute technology which may be used in manned Mars missions failed during a NASA test on Monday, when its UFO shaped gear tore away over the Pacific Ocean. Another giant parachute was tested last year without a success due to a similar problem.

“This is exactly why we do tests like this,” NASA engineer Dan Coatta from Low Density Supersonic Decelerator [LDSD] mission said.

“When we're actually ready to send spacecraft to Mars, we know that they are going to work when that big mission is on the line.”

The parachute, which is a part of a $230 million project to develop a supersonic braking system, is 30.5 meters in diameter and is almost twice the size of the one that carried the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars in 2012.

After a giant balloon carried the landing vehicle to an altitude of 36,576 meters, a rocket lifted the gear up to 54,864 meters where LSDS’ doughnut shaped ring inflated in order to slow down the descent, making use of increased friction.

However the parachute -  is intended to be the primary tool to slow a vehicle travelling at 4,828 kph vehicle, or four times of the speed of sound – disintegrated and the vehicle crashed into the ocean.

NASA is aiming to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.

TRTWorld and agencies