Space is hard: Eric Berger at Ars Technica reported yesterday that the parachute issues for Europe’s ExoMars 2020 mission are far more serious that publicly announced.
The project has had two parachute failures during test flights in May and then August. However,
The problems with the parachutes may be worse than has publicly been reported, however. Ars has learned of at least one other parachute failure during testing of the ExoMars lander. Moreover, the agency has yet to conduct even a single successful test of the parachute canopy that is supposed to deploy at supersonic speeds, higher in the Martian atmosphere.
Repeated efforts to get comments from the project about this issue have gone unanswered.
Their launch window opens in July 2020, only about ten months from now. This is very little time to redesign and test a parachute design. Furthermore, they will only begin the assembly of the spacecraft at the end of this year, which is very very late in the game.
When the August test failure was confirmed, I predicted that there is a 50-50 chance they will launch in 2020. The lack of response from the project above makes me now think that their chances have further dropped, to less than 25%.
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