SpaceX is providing a closer look at some of its Crew Dragon parachute recovery system testing, with a new video compiling footage of a number of tests, including those flown from a cargo plane and a high-altitude balloon. The video shows a test version of their Crew Dragon capsule falling through the sky over desert testing ground, and deploying the multi-parachute array it’ll employ to coast gently back to Earth after its planned missions ferrying astronauts to space.
Elon Musk’s private space company has been testing the Crew Dragon parachute system for a while now, and we don’t know too much about its progress yet, beyond that it performed an “advanced development test” in April using a metal sled in place of an actual demonstration Crew Capsule that did not meet NASA’s expectations. Regardless, the test was seen as a “good one” by both parties because of the data it provided in terms of working toward an ultimately successful system.
SpaceX shows footage from seven different tests in the highlight video it shared today, which include both reliability and qualification tests. It still has yet to announce that its parachute system is approved for flight, however, and that’s a milestone that Boeing achieved for its rival Starliner crew craft in June.
Beyond the parachute system, SpaceX is undertaking a wide range of tests in order to quality its craft for crewed flight with NASA personnel on board. The company also recently detailed progress it made into an investigation of the cause behind its failed Dragon abort engine test in April, and the steps it’s taking to remedy the issue so that it can move forward with a crewed test launch.
SpaceX had been targeting a 2019 date for its first crewed test mission for Crew Dragon, and had previously been aiming to run that mission at the end of July. At this stage, it seems increasingly unlikely that we’ll see astronauts on board a SpaceX spacecraft before the end of the year.