The new main parachute for the UK's Beagle 2 Mars lander passed a qualification test earlier this month.

The new parachute was developed and tested in three months, after the Open University Beagle 2 programme management decided the spacecraft's airbag impact protection system would not have been strong enough and a slower impact was required. Beagle 2 will be launched next May with the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter and is to land on Mars in December next year.

Prime contractor Astrium and team members Analyticon and Linstrand Balloons designed and developed a larger ring-sail parachute with a canopy area 56% greater than the previous one, but weighing the same.

Source: Flight International