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SpaceX Fails to Achieve Parachute Success During Test

By Scott Levine - Mar 26, 2020 at 11:34AM

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Things didn't go as planned for Elon Musk's space venture.

Preparing for a May launch, Elon Musk's SpaceX encountered a problem while testing the parachute system of its Crew Dragon capsule this week. According to a statement from the company emailed to Space.com on Tuesday, "During a planned parachute drop test today, the test article suspended underneath the helicopter became unstable," resulting in the parachute's inability to deploy properly.

Although the test was unsuccessful, SpaceX made clear that the test's failure didn't result from a problem with the parachute. The company elaborated in the statement that "As the helicopter was not yet at target conditions, the test article was not armed, and as such, the parachute system did not initiate the parachute deployment sequence. While the test article was lost, this was not a failure of the parachute system, and most importantly, no one was injured."

A model rocket lifts off.

Image source: Getty Images.

Whether this will affect the timetable for Demo-2, the company's manned mission to the International Space Station (ISS) planned for May, remains unclear. If successful, Demo-2 will represent the first manned mission to space to launch from American soil in nearly a decade.

The unsuccessful test of the Crew Dragon parachute represents the second setback that SpaceX has suffered in March. Last week, SpaceX reported that one of the engines of the Falcon 9 rocket shut down unexpectedly during a flight to deploy 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.

Despite the recent miscues, it has enjoyed success this month. On March 3, SpaceX reported that its Crew Dragon capsule had achieved an autonomous docking with the ISS -- the first type of docking for an American spacecraft. 

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