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NASA tests pilot recovery parachute for Ares I launcher's first stage

NASA conducted two drop tests of the Ares I first stage’s recovery pilot parachute over the US Army’s Yuma proving ground from 14-17 August. The two tests were the first of nine planned for the next two years to test the recovery system’s pilot, drogue and man parachutes.
The Ares I first stage is a five-segment solid rocket booster (SRB), similar to the four-segment SRB used by the Space Shuttle.During the tests a 6,818kg (15,000lb) test vehicle, 304mm (12in) diameter and 9.15m (30ft) in length, representing the Ares I first stage was dropped from 10,000ft by a US Army Bell UH-1 Huey helicopter.
Just before the test vehicle reached the ground another parachute opened to ensure the onboard instrumentation package had a soft landing.“The testing will included an examination of the differences between the performance of the recovery systems of the Shuttle’s SRBs and the Ares I fist stage,” says NASA.
Because the Ares I first stage is larger, with an extra segment, and separates from the second stage at a higher altitude than the Shuttle SRBs detaches from the vehicle, the parachute system has to cope with a longer descent and potentially harder water landing. An Ares I single main parachute test will occur early next year, followed by a test of a cluster of main parachutes.In the second or third quarter of 2007 the Ares I drogue chute will be tested.
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