Friday, December 09, 2022

Parachutes: Bringing the Orion Spacecraft Home | NASA's Artemis I Moon Mission

Parachutes: Bringing the Orion Spacecraft Home | NASA's Artemis I Moon Mission

After NASA's Orion spacecraft enters the Earth’s atmosphere at the conclusion of its 25.5-day mission, the spacecraft will rely on its rigorously tested parachute system to slow its speed and allow for a gentle splashdown. Koki Machin, chief engineer of Orion’s parachute assembly system, describes the process and the path to certification of the system.

Orion is expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego at 12:40 p.m. EST (17:40 UTC) on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. The exploration ground systems recovery team from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, working with the U.S. Navy, will recover the spacecraft. Live coverage for this event begins at 11 a.m. EST (16:00 UTC).

Earth’s atmosphere initially will slow the spacecraft to 325 mph, then the parachutes will slow Orion to a splashdown speed in about 10 minutes as it descends through Earth’s atmosphere. Parachute deployment begins at an altitude of about five miles with three small parachutes pulling the forward bay covers away. Once the forward bay cover separates, two drogue parachutes will slow and stabilize the crew module for main parachute deployment. At an altitude of 9,500 feet and a spacecraft speed of 130 mph, three pilot parachutes will lift and deploy the main parachutes. Those 116-foot-diameter parachutes of nylon broadcloth, or “silk,” will slow the Orion crew module to a splashdown speed of 20 mph or less.

The parachute system includes 11 parachutes made of 36,000 square feet of canopy material. The canopy is attached to the top of the spacecraft with more than 13 miles of Kevlar lines that are deployed in series using cannon-like mortars and pyrotechnic thrusters and bolt cutters. Learn more about Orion’s parachute system in the Artemis I reference guide.

NASA TV coverage of Artemis I’s return to Earth begins at 11 a.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 11. The Orion spacecraft is scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:40 p.m. near Guadalupe Island.

Watch here: 

Credit: NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC)

Duration: 3 minutes

Release Date: Dec. 9, 2022

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