ISRO’s Gaganyaan Mission Progress Successful Drogue Parachute Tests. The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), under the guidance of ISRO, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully executing a series of Drogue Parachute Deployment Tests at the Rail Track Rocket Sled (RTRS) facility of the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory, Chandigarh, from August 8 to 10, 2023. These crucial tests were conducted in collaboration with the Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) under the DRDO.
Central to the success of the Gaganyaan mission is the safe transport of astronauts to and from space. A pivotal component in ensuring this safety is the deployment of drogue parachutes, which play a vital role in stabilizing the crew module and reducing its velocity to a safe level during re-entry.
Ingeniously designed, the drogue parachutes are packed within pyro-based devices, known as mortars. These mortars are ingeniously crafted to expertly launch the parachutes into the air upon command. The drogue parachutes themselves are conical ribbon-type structures, boasting an impressive diameter of 5.8 meters. What sets them apart is their single-stage reefing mechanism, which ingeniously minimizes canopy area, thus mitigating opening shock and guaranteeing a smooth and controlled descent process.
The recent tests conducted at the RTRS facility spanned three comprehensive scenarios, meticulously crafted to mirror real-world conditions. The objective was to rigorously evaluate the performance and reliability of the drogue parachutes. In the first test, an outstanding breakthrough was achieved as it successfully simulated the maximum reefed load, thus introducing reefing in a mortar-deployed parachute within India. The second test meticulously emulated the maximum disreefed load, while the third test astutely mimicked the deployment of the drogue parachute under conditions closely resembling the maximum angle of attack experienced by the Crew Module during its mission.
The culmination of these tests marks a pivotal qualification milestone for the drogue parachutes, underscoring their readiness for seamless integration into the forthcoming Test Vehicle-D1 mission. It’s noteworthy that earlier in the same year, the RTRS tests of the Pilot and Apex cover separation parachutes were conducted, further underscoring the remarkable progress in the development of the parachute system for the Gaganyaan mission.
The intricate parachute sequence meticulously devised for the Gaganyaan crew module’s deceleration system comprises a total of 10 parachutes. This sequence is initiated with the deployment of two Apex cover separation parachutes, which is then seamlessly followed by the stabilization process facilitated by the deployment of two drogue parachutes. Upon the successful release of the drogue parachutes, the mission seamlessly transitions into the extraction phase, where three Pilot chutes are strategically employed to individually extract three main parachutes. This step is pivotal in reducing the Crew Module’s speed to levels deemed safe for a secure and successful landing.
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