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SpaceX completes crucial tests of its Crew Dragon parachutes

07 November 2019

"Most recent test demonstrated the parachute system's ability to land the spacecraft safely in the unlikely event that one of the four main parachutes fails".

SpaceX has experienced a couple of hiccups since docking an unmanned Crew Dragon capsule with the International Space Station back in March. "We certainly want to least on the order of 10 successful tests in a row before, before launching astronauts", he said. Musk had said that at least ten successful deployments of the Mark 3 system would show that the behavior of the parachutes is consistent.

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SpaceX has completed its 13th parachute test in a row, surpassing their goal of 10 by the end of the year. Zylon is an extremely durable polymer - 1.6 times more durable than Kevlar - and provides lines used in the parachute that are thrice as strong as nylon.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft has aced yet another critical test. Last month, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine visited SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, where he and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk held a press conference to discuss their progress on the commercial crew program. In addition to this new material, the parachutes are also sporting new stitching patterns in the fabric. During the last such test in April, an anomaly caused an uncrewed capsule to explode. Everything went well, but there was still work to be done for it to bring astronauts.

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Those CRS-2 Dragon missions will use "propulsive" landings, where the capsule lands on a landing pad using its SuperDraco thrusters rather than splashing down in the ocean.

Despite the setbacks, Musk says Crew Dragon could be cleared to transport its first passengers into space as soon as December.

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In October, court documents surfaced showing Musk's advisers had urged him to take a break from Twitter after his personal "paedo" attack against British caver Vernon Unsworth a year ago.

SpaceX completes crucial tests of its Crew Dragon parachutes