Category Archives: ESA

Supersonic Parachute

I am always amazed at parachute tests,.  A capsule (see link below) is speeding along at 12 times the speed of sound and then the parachute is deployed creating incredible stresses on the system, in the end designs it all holds together. For some unknown reason this test got me to wondering how much stretch the attaching parachute cord occurs and what the tensile strength is, for that matter what it is made of.   Oh I’m sure the data is out there, I just need to find it.

About the test:
ESA — This parachute deployed at supersonic velocity from a test capsule hurtling down towards snow-covered northern Sweden from 679 km up, proving a crucial technology for future spacecraft landing systems.

Planetary landers or reentering spacecraft need to lose their speed rapidly to achieve safe landings, which is where parachutes come in. They have played a crucial role in the success of ESA missions such as ESA’s Atmospheric Entry Demonstrator, the Huygens lander on Saturn’s moon Titan and the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle spaceplane.

This 1.25-m diameter ‘Supersonic Parachute Experiment Ride on Maxus’, or Supermax, flew piggyback on ESA’s Maxus-9 sounding rocket on 7 April, detaching from the launcher after its solid-propellant motor burnt out.

After reaching its maximum 679 km altitude, the capsule began falling back under the pull of gravity. It fell at 12 times the speed of sound, undergoing intense aerodynamic heating, before air drag decelerated it to Mach 2 at an altitude of 19 km.

At this point the capsule’s parachute was deployed to stabilise it for a soft landing, and allowing its onboard instrumentation and camera footage to be recovered intact.

The experiment was undertaken by UK companies Vorticity Ltd and Fluid Gravity Engineering Ltd under ESA contract.

The data gathered by this test are being added to existing wind tunnel test campaigns of supersonic parachutes to validate newly developed software called the Parachute Engineering Tool (also developed by Vorticity), allowing mission designers to accurately assess the use of parachutes.

LISA Mission Ends

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna or LISA mission ended yesterday.

The LISA Pathfinder mission set out to test the technology needed to detect gravity waves.  The gravity waves were predicted to exist by Einstein a hundred years ago (actually in 1916).  Could they be found?

Thanks to the LISA mission we know, yes they can!  Here’s a new video from ESA that gives a good overview.

BepiColombo Acoustic Test

Very pleased to see a BepiColombo online and at an acoustic test no less. I wondered how they tested for acoustics, was a shake-test enough?  Apparently not.

ESA – The full BepiColombo stack seen in the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF) at ESA’s test centre in June 2017. The walls of the chamber are fitted with powerful speakers that reproduce the noise expected during launch.

From bottom to top: the Mercury Transfer Module (sitting on top of a the cone-shaped adapter), the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (with an antenna facing towards the camera), and the sunshield (top), within which sits the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter.

The noise of a launch is incredible! The echo is so strong it could knock tiles off a Space Shuttle. The noise is mitigated so some degree with suppression systems, ever wonder what the water is for during launches, it is noise suppression.

Credit: ESA–C. Carreau, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

ESA Contribution to Orion

Wow,  pretty exciting to see all that effort get to this point.  Good Luck!!

ESA – Set to be shipped to the USA around the New Year, ESA’s contribution to NASA’s Orion spacecraft is taking shape at Airbus in Bremen, Germany. This is no test article: the service module pictured here will fly into space by 2020, past the Moon and farther than any other human-rated spacecraft has ever flown before.

The service module will supply electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen, propulsion and temperature control.

The blue circular frame is the support structure that holds the module as technicians work to get it ready. Yellow ties keep the 11 km of wiring in place as the thousands of components are installed and connected – the ties will be removed before flight. Behind the red support covers are the eight 490 N R-4D-11 thrusters, built by Aerojet.

Technicians are working in three shifts a day to assemble the components that are being shipped from all over Europe to complete this service module in just a few months’ time. In December it will be taken by road to Bremen airport and flown to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to meet its crew capsule.

Read more about the Orion mission and Europe’s involvement on the minisite.

Credit: ESA

Pesquet Peeks

I hope he has a framed copy of this image on his wall.

ESA – ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet looking out of the International Space Station’s Cupola window shortly before the end of his six-month Proxima mission.

Thomas commented: “The day of return is approaching: I can’t wait to be on Earth again and see my loved ones… but I will certainly miss the view”

Credit: ESA

Take a Ride Into Space

This ride into space was from 28 May 2014 aboard a Soyuz spacecraft with SA astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman under the command of Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev.