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NASA reports parachute failure in Mars testing

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NASA officials reported recently that a parachute inflated then disintegrated immediately after deployment during the agency’s testing of new technology for landing larger spacecraft on Mars.

NASA reports parachute failure in Mars testing

NASA officials reported recently that a parachute inflated then disintegrated immediately after deployment during the agency’s testing of new technology for landing larger spacecraft on Mars.

Steve Jurcyzk, the associate administrator for the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate, said NASA is studying why the parachute failed and will make changes as appropriate.

"We very much want to have these failures occur here in our testing on Earth rather than at Mars," Jurcyzk said in a news conference. "And so it's a success in that we were able to understand and learn more about the parachute so that we can get confident and have highly reliable parachutes for when we have a large mission going to Mars where we can't do anything about it."

The test was held off the Hawaiian island of Kauai as part of NASA’s study of new technology designed to slow large landing vehicles while falling through the atmosphere at supersonic speeds. A similar test last year resulted in failure.

During the test, NASA used a balloon to lift the test vehicle to an altitude of 34 miles before releasing the saucer shaped landing vehicle. An initial doughnut-shaped ring inflated and slowed the vehicle and the large parachute was supposed to continue the deceleration process.

NASA is testing the technology because it wants to send heavier payloads and humans to Mars. The agency has used the same parachute design to slow vehicles for Mars landings since the 1970s.

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