NASA Completes ASPIRE Experiments, Selects Mars Mission Parachute

NASA has certified the use of a 180-pound parachute for its Mars 2020 mission after completing a series of tests under the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment program.

Using mission planning, engineering and field operations services from Northrop Grumman, JPL tested two different parachutes and selected the one used for the third and final ASPIRE experiment to support the landing of the Mars 2020 rover on the red planet, NASA said Friday.

The chosen parachute created a peak load of almost 70K lbs. of force after being deployed from a payload that separated from a Black Brant IX sounding launch vehicle during the last ASPIRE test.

“Mars 2020 will be carrying the heaviest payload yet to the surface of Mars, and like all our prior Mars missions, we only have one parachute and it has to work,” said John McNamee, project manager of Mars 2020 at JPL.

He added that the ASPIRE tests demonstrated the potential performance of the chosen parachute when it is deployed into a supersonic flow above Mars.

Northrop supported the parachute-testing activity under the NASA Sounding Rocket Operations Contract.

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