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SpaceX Crew Dragon Parachute Test Goes Awry; Crewed Flight to Space Station Could Slip to June

25 Mar 2020, 16:17 UTC
SpaceX Crew Dragon Parachute Test Goes Awry; Crewed Flight to Space Station Could Slip to June
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SpaceX performed its fourteenth overall parachute test supporting Crew Dragon Development March 4, 2018, over the Mojave Desert in Southern California. The test demonstrated an off-nominal, or abnormal, situation, deploying only one of the two drogue chutes and intentionally skipping a deployment stage on one of the four main parachutes. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas MessierManaging Editor

A SpaceX Crew Dragon parachute test went dangerously awry on Tuesday, resulting in the loss of a test article and contributing to a potential delay in the first crewed flight of the spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for mid- to late May.

A source told Parabolic Arc that the helicopter pilot was forced to prematurely drop the test vehicle to save himself and the crew after experiencing dangerous oscillations with the suspended payload. The source, who is not authorized to speak to the media, requested anonymity.

The test article’s parachutes had not been armed to open yet, so the vehicle was completely destroyed when it plunged to the ground. The helicopter landed safely, and there were no injuries in the incident.

In a brief statement, SpaceX said the pilot pulled the emergency release “out of an abundance of caution” after the ...

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