Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Parachutes for Boeing crew capsule tested over Nevada

Boeing dropped a mock-up of its CST-100 commercial crew capsule over the Nevada desert Tuesday, successfully testing the craft's three main landing parachutes, the first in a series of demonstrations to prove the design of the vehicle's landing system.

An Erickson Sky Crane helicopter hoisted the capsule to an altitude of about 11,000 feet and released it, according to a Boeing press release.

"Three main parachutes deployed to slow the capsule's descent before six airbags inflated, providing a smooth ground landing," the company said in a statement. "The event was the first drop test of the fully combined vehicle landing system, including all elements."

The drop test occurred at the Delamar Dry Lake near Alamo, Nev., a former emergency landing site for the X-15 rocket plane. Crewed flights of the CST-100 will initially return to Earth at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

"This successful test is a tremendous milestone that brings Boeing one step closer to completing development of a system that will provide safe, reliable and affordable crewed access to space," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing commercial programs.

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