Paragliding reentry capsules celebrate 44-year anniversary


E. P. Hetzel trying out the paraglider system of spacecraft recovery, then under consideration for Project Gemini .It was the first manned test of the recovery system at what became NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, California.

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2 Responses to Paragliding reentry capsules celebrate 44-year anniversary

  1. John Charles 25 August, 2008 at 9:32 pm #

    This photograph illustrates a fascinating effort to bring American astronauts to a pinpoint landing on dry land. The successful attempt shown in the photograph came only after years of failures forced NASA to forego the paraglider option for the rapidly-approaching Gemini program and rely instead on a parachute descent into the ocean and recovery by the US Navy. The contractor, North American Aviation, continued to develop the technique using left-over reousrces, and finally made it work, hoping to see it used on Apollo and military spacecraft recoveries.

    In retrospect, the inflatable paraglider was probably too complicated to be reliable. A few decades later, the self-inflating parafoil, in common use for recreational skydiving, was evaluated for a similar return requirement for NASA’s proposed X-38 crew rescue vehicle. Alas, that program, too, was cancelled. But the current and future successors to the inflatable paraglider will continue to be available when the requirement for precision landing coincides with the capacity to store them aboard the spacecraft.

  2. Maldivian Culture 5 July, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    Sounds like there are some very interesting stories there indeed. It must have took time gathering the research here and so well done. Great stuff

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