On November 9, 2020 the European Space Agency finally conducted the high altitude parachute test of the landing system for its 2022 Mars rover Rosalind Franklin that had been planned for March but had been delayed due to the Wuhan flu panic.
The timeline of the latest test, including extraction and deceleration, went exactly to plan. However, four tears in the canopy of the first main parachute and one in the second main parachute were found after recovery. The damage seemed to happen at the onset of the inflation, with the descent otherwise occurring nominally.
The team are now analysing the test data to determine further improvements for the next tests. Planning is underway for future tests in the first half of next year, to ‘qualify’ the complete parachute system ready for launch in September 2022.
Overall they consider the test a success, though the damage issues must be solved before the ’22 launch. Based on this test it also appears that the ESA made a very wise choice delaying the mission from launch this year, as its parachute system was clearly not ready.
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