SpaceX achieves key milestone in safety testing of Crew Dragon spacecraft

SpaceX nails thirteenth back-to-back safety test of Crew Dragon parachute systems

SpaceX nails thirteenth back-to-back safety test of Crew Dragon parachute systems

In a video posted to SpaceX's Twitter account this weekend, the company's Crew Dragon capsule - which is created to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station - can be seen successfully completing a crucial test of its parachute.

The assumption is with the Mark 3 parachute system now surpassing the ten test mark that Elon Musk had stated needed to happen before flight certification, that certification will be coming. SpaceX says it has now conducted 13 of these tests successfully, marking the occasion by sharing a video of the chutes in action on Twitter.

The company carried out a pad abort test using the redesigned parachutes in September, where the vehicle tumbles at a low altitude, before the parachute opens and stabilizes the plummeting spacecraft.

SpaceX is continuing to edge towards the next launch of its Crew Dragon spacecraft, with the vehicle's parachute system the latest critical component to be put through its paces.

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With all of this testing, the parachutes have been improved in a number of ways.

The Mark 3 parachutes use Zylon rather than nylon for the lines used in the chute, which is said to be about three times stronger than nylon.

SpaceX performs a parachute test for its Dragon capsule over the Delamar Dry Lake in Nevada in August 2017. SpaceX also updated the stitching pattern to optimize the load balance on the new parachutes. "We did not get the results we wanted, but we learned some information that's going to affect, potentially, future parachute designs". It's interesting to watch the parachutes as the test sled nears the ground.

The incident was set off by a leaking component and completely destroyed the capsule - a glitch that has contributed to SpaceX's delayed timeline for Crew Dragon, which it's developing for NASA. While it might seem like a routine next step, an uncrewed capsule exploded during the same test just a few months ago in April.

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