An Orion test capsule with its three main parachutes touches down in the Arizona desert Sept. 12. (Credit: NASA)
By Kenji Thuloweit,
412th Test Wing Public Affairs
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF PR) — For a decade the 418th Flight Test Squadron has supported NASA by supplying C-17 Globemaster IIIs and personnel to assist with the testing and qualifying of the Orion spacecraft’s parachute system. That support ended Sept. 12 with the success of the final parachute system test over the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.
The 34,000-pound Orion test article was pulled out from a C-17 cargo bay to test the spacecraft’s Capsule Parachute Assembly System, or CPAS, which ultimately qualified the system for flights with astronauts. In the future, when the Orion spacecraft returns to Earth, the capsule’s system of 11 parachutes will slow the manned spacecraft’s descent for a splashdown in the ocean. The final test checks off an important milestone on the path to send humans on missions to the moon and beyond, according to NASA.
For participants at the 418th FLTS, it was a bittersweet end to a unique test program.
“The conclusion of the CPAS test program leaves me with a ...