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Section 5

When the Orion spacecraft hurtles toward Earth during its return from deep-space, the capsule’s system of 11 parachutes will slow it from 300 mph to 20 mph for splashdown in the ocean in about 10 minutes.

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We put it to the test! Through a series of tests in the Arizona desert, engineers have refined Orion’s parachutes and worked to certify them for flights with astronauts, including the recent successful test Dec. 13, seen here, that looked at a failure case in which only two of the systems three orange and white main parachutes deploy after several other parachutes in the system used to slow and stabilize Orion endure high aerodynamic stresses. But behind the scenes, engineers are working hard to understand and perfect the system that must be able to work across a broad range of potential environmental conditions and bring the crew home since the astronauts inside descend with their lives hanging by a series of threads during the parachute-assisted end of future Orion missions. Image credit: U.S. Army
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