Chute for the stars

181031 parachute full
Thar she blows: NASA’s mega-parachute in action.

This is the fastest deployment of a parachute in history.

The chute, which weighed 81 kilograms, was strapped to a a section of a NASA Black Brandt IX sounding rocket, which separated, as planned, once the 17.7 metre high craft reached an altitude of 38 kilometres above the ground – a distance covered in just two minutes.

The parachute took a mere four-tenths of a second to fully expand.

The test was part of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) project, designed to fine-tune equipment for the agency’s planned 2020 mission to Mars.

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