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Propulsive Descent Technologies (PDT): Parachute Autonomous Disreef

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Propulsive Descent Technologies (PDT): Parachute Autonomous Disreef

Parachute reefing is a method to control a parachute's drag area by constricting the parachute diameter with a textile cord.  Mechanically-actuated, time delay fused, pyrotechnic devices are the common method used to cut the textile cord allowing the parachute diameter to expand; thus, increasing drag.  Time delay error band yields imprecise control of parachute drag area which can cause lead-lag problems in parachute cluster systems yielding an overdesigned system resulting in mass and volume penalties.  The use of electrically-actuated cord cutters receiving fire commands via a transceiver provides solutions to those known inconsistencies of disreefing singular and parachute clusters by providing precise control.  This technology has future applications to abort modes in particular, where the vehicle state has a profound influence on the loads imparted when the parachute disreefs.

Pioneer Aerospace holds a patent to an existing parachute wireless disreef device (patent number US20070252042, http://www.google.com/patents/US20070252042). The wireless device weighs approximately 8 oz. and is 6.5" in length.  A single helicopter drop test will be performed to demonstrate the functionality of the system in a configuration comparable to an anticipated demonstration on an Orion drop test utilizing the Orion test article platform recovery system. The demonstration test configuration will approximate the Orion main parachute trailing distance of ~250' to demonstrate wireless communication functionality. The payload weight will be such that the rate of descent is similar to the Orion test article platform. The demonstration parachute will have two reefing stages as the Orion parachutes have two reefing stages. The demonstration parachute is much smaller than the Orion main parachute, 29' diameter as compared to 116' diameter, respectively.  Confirmation of system operation will be via onboard upward looking video, Ground-to-Air Video, and the wireless devices' onboard health and status data acquisition.

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