Starliner: Boeing knocks out high-altitude parachute test for astronaut spacecraft

Boeing is currently developing a new spacecraft called Starliner that will be used to send astronauts to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This week Boeing released footage of its sixth and final parachute test as it progresses toward its next uncrewed test flight using Starliner.

Boeing describes the Starliner parachute test process:

The campaign, developed by both Boeing and NASA, used six balloon drop tests of a Starliner test article to gather supplemental performance data on the spacecraft’s parachutes and landing system. Each drop test focused on a different set of adverse conditions and used pre-flown parachutes to evaluate reusability margins for future missions. […]

During nominal landings, Starliner uses two small parachutes to carry off the spacecraft’s forward heat shield and expose critical hardware needed for the rest of the landing system sequence. Starliner then deploys two drogue parachutes to slow and stabilize the capsule before three small pilot parachutes pull out the spacecraft’s three mains. The three main parachutes continue slowing Starliner’s descent for a safe and soft touchdown supported by the vehicle’s landing airbags.

See Boeing’s parachute test for the Starliner spacecraft in action here:

Boeing says it will continue testing parachute data with NASA during the second Orbital Flight Test of Starliner scheduled to happen in early 2021. Starliner did not successfully reach the International Space Station during its first uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December 2019.


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