Spanish company completes parachute drop test of reusable first stage


Week Four: Ninth Anniversary Fund-Raising Drive for Behind the Black
 

The fourth week of my annual anniversary fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black has begun.


I once again must thank the many readers and listeners who have generously donated this month. Right now there is a chance this will be the best fund-raiser ever, though only if a lot of people donate during the month's last ten days. If you want to help me continue my reporting, you can give a one-time contribution, from $5 to $100, or a regular subscription for as little as $2 per month.


For one time donations via Paypal, click here:

To pick a subscription option via Paypal, click here:


 

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can still support Behind The Black by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

The new colonial movement: A Spanish company funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully completed a drop parachute test for recovering the first stage of their smallsat rocket from the ocean.

A Chinook CH-47 helicopter lifted the 15 m long 1.4 m diameter Miura 5 demonstration first stage to an altitude of 5 km then dropped it over a controlled area of the Atlantic Ocean, 6 km off the coast of Huelva in southern Spain.

During the descent, electronic systems inside the demonstrator controlled a carefully timed release of three parachutes to slow it down until its splashdown at a speed of about 10 m/s.

A team of divers recovered the demonstrator and hoisted it onto a tugboat, which returned to the port of Mazagón. The demonstrator looks to be in good shape and will now be transported to PLD Space, in Elche, for inspection and further analysis.

They next say they will develop a vertical landing system, similar to SpaceX’s.

Honestly, this seems like a waste of money and somewhat foolish. SpaceX made it very clear almost a decade ago when they tried to recover first stages out of the ocean after using parachutes to splash down softly that the salt water did too much damage to the engines and made such recovery impractical.

I can’t help asking, why is ESA spending time and money supporting engineering tests of a design that simply won’t work? They should be doing tests now of vertical landing technology, since it does work, and in fact is what they need to compete successfully.

Maybe I am being too harsh. Maybe they want to develop vertical landing technology that will work in conjunction with these parachutes, and this is merely their first step. Maybe. Based on past ESA development projects (which are often as dysfunctional as NASA’s), I think my doubts are not unreasonable.

Share

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *