Europe schedules new parachute tests for ExoMars 2020

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Following the failure on all previous tests of the parachutes for its ExoMars 2020 Mars lander, the European Space Agency has now made some design changes and is planning to do additional tests in the first quarter of 2020.

ESA has also requested support from NASA to benefit from their hands-on parachute experience. This cooperation gives access to special test equipment at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that will enable ESA to conduct multiple dynamic extraction tests on the ground in order to validate any foreseen design adaptations prior to the upcoming high altitude drop tests.

The next opportunities for high altitude drop tests are at a range in Oregon, US, January–March. ESA is working to complete the tests of both the 15 m and 35 m parachute prior to the ExoMars project’s ‘qualification acceptance review’, which is planned for the end of April in order to meet the mission launch window (26 July–11 Aug 2020).

Their schedule is incredibly tight, since their launch window to Mars is in July 2020, and if they fail to meet it the launch will have to be delayed two years until the next launch window.



  • Col Beausabre

    And how much are the Europeans paying to use facilities built and operated with US taxpayer money?

  • Lee S

    @Col… I don’t think this is the question that needs to be asked… I believe that space exploration should be cooperative…
    But I recall watching a BBC program when Steve Squires visited the exomars construction site, and when asked “what advice would you give?” , He answered “make your rover 6 wheel steering”, ( or something to that effect) , exomars still has and will have 4 wheel steering as far as I know…
    I am dubious about the thing actually landing intact… The ESA’s record for landing on Mars is not exactly great ( like… Never…), And if we can’t get our parachutes right this far into the game….
    I do admire the intent to actively look for active life, rather than the conservative “follow the water” attitude of NASA, I just feel the whole mission is doomed to failure due to an inability to learn from, cooperate and exchange data with NASA until the very last minute.
    If exomars lands safely, and rolls into the Martian regolith I will raise a glass… But I remain skeptical.

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