NASA Preps for Next YPG Orion Parachute Test

NASA Preps for Next YPG Orion Parachute Test

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    YUMA, AZ - With Snoopy on its nose and NASA signatures on its tail, the Dart Test Vehicle sits in the Jacobs hangar at Yuma International Airport. Equipped with the Orion Parachute System, the "Dart" is integral to the sixth test in a series of eighteen tests. In the last test, a capsule was dropped from five miles above. This test takes speed conditions to the next level.

    Orion is NASA's next-generation project for manned flights into deep space.

    Carol Evans is NASA's Test and Operations Manager for the Orion Parachute System.

   "We call this our Dart Test Vehicle. What is has is the back end of the test article you can tell is the same parachute compartment, but the front end is a missile shape. What that does is it's much faster than the capsule shape. When we drop it from the airplane, it builds up speed faster and we can achieve higher loads on the parachute systems," explains Evans.

    Slowly, the Dart was taken out of the hangar bay; the first step toward dropping it out of a plane. When the dart is dropped over Yuma Proving Grounds, it will reach speeds around 330 miles-per-hour, nearly half the speed of sound.

    But before NASA can drop it, they have to get it into a plane. That's what today was all about. 

    A giant crane was used to hoist the Dart onto a large flatbed loader. After carefully maneuvering into position, the Dart was eased into a C-130 aircraft using standardized military sliding mechanism.

    A pretest briefing will take place on Monday; the actual drop will take place on Tuesday.

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