Spacecraft Parachute Recovery System Testing from a Failure Rate Perspective
- Stewart, Christine E.
- March 25, 2013.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unclassified, Unlimited, Publicly available.
- Spacecraft parachute recovery systems, especially those with a parachute cluster, require testing to identify and reduce failures. This is especially important when the spacecraft in question is human-rated. Due to the recent effort to make spaceflight affordable, the importance of determining a minimum requirement for testing has increased. The number of tests required to achieve a mature design, with a relatively constant failure rate, can be estimated from a review of previous complex spacecraft recovery systems. Examination of the Apollo parachute testing and the Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster recovery chute system operation will clarify at which point in those programs the system reached maturity. This examination will also clarify the risks inherent in not performing a sufficient number of tests prior to operation with humans on-board. When looking at complex parachute systems used in spaceflight landing systems, a pattern begins to emerge regarding the need for a minimum amount of testing required to wring out the failure modes and reduce the failure rate of the parachute system to an acceptable level for human spaceflight. Not only a sufficient number of system level testing, but also the ability to update the design as failure modes are found is required to drive the failure rate of the system down to an acceptable level. In addition, sufficient data and images are necessary to identify incipient failure modes or to identify failure causes when a system failure occurs. In order to demonstrate the need for sufficient system level testing prior to an acceptable failure rate, the Apollo Earth Landing System (ELS) test program and the Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster Recovery System failure history will be examined, as well as some experiences in the Orion Capsule Parachute Assembly System will be noted.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20140003545., JSC-CN-28395., and AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technology Conference; 25-28 Mar. 2013; Daytona Beach, FL; United States.
- No Copyright.
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