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ESA remains confident it will fix ExoMars parachutes

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WASHINGTON — High officers with the European House Company stay assured that they are going to have the ability to resolve the parachute issues that threaten to delay subsequent summer season’s launch of the ExoMars 2020 rover mission.

In two high-altitude assessments earlier this 12 months, parachutes supposed to decelerate the ExoMars 2020 lander suffered tears of their canopies. In one test in May, each the 15-meter and 35-meter parachutes have been examined, whereas a second test in August, after incorporating what ESA known as “precautionary design variations,” suffered tears within the 35-meter parachute.

ESA has since turned to NASA for help, working with specialists on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who’ve expertise designing parachutes for NASA’s Mars landers. One other set of high-altitude balloon assessments of the parachutes are scheduled for the primary quarter of 2020 in Oregon.

“We’re very comfortable that our American buddies, companions and colleagues are supporting us in fixing that difficulty, as a result of parachutes are very harmful and really sophisticated components,” Jan Woerner, director normal of ESA, stated in an Oct. 23 interview throughout the Worldwide Astronautical Congress right here. “NASA has way more expertise with parachutes than we now have.”

He was assured that, regardless of the parachute issues, it’s going to nonetheless be prepared to satisfy a launch window that’s open for less than two and a half weeks in late July and early August of 2020, calling the general state of the mission “glorious.” “There’s no change of plan proper now” in regards to the launch, he stated.

In a separate interview Oct. 24, David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration at ESA, stated the issue seen in these two assessments seems linked to the extraction of the parachutes from their canisters. “The parachutes themselves have been demonstrated to work nicely,” he stated.

NASA is at the moment aiding ESA with floor assessments of the parachute extraction programs, he stated, utilizing services at JPL. That can be accomplished earlier than the high-altitude balloon assessments early subsequent 12 months.

One purpose why ESA is assured that the issue could possibly be corrected with out delaying the launch is that the parachutes could be added late within the technique of making ready the spacecraft for launch. “The benefit of the parachutes is that they are often built-in into the descent module very late on within the sequence,” Parker stated. “So long as we now have confirmed that the parachute works, it may be built-in very late within the meeting sequence.”

ESA stated in an Oct. 15 assertion that the purpose is to have the parachutes certified in time for a “qualification acceptance evaluation” for the mission scheduled for late April. “We imagine we are going to discover the issue after which remedy it, after which have a parachute efficiently built-in,” Woerner stated within the interview.

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