Encyclopedia Astronautica
1963.02.08 - Northrop Ventura successfully completed the first series of 20 drop tests in developing the parachute recovery system for Project Gemini.


The first four drops, during the last two weeks of August 1962, used a dummy rendezvous and recovery (R and R) section with the 18-foot drogue parachute to determine the rate of descent of the R and R section.

Subsequent drops tested the 84-foot ring-sail main parachute using boilerplate spacecraft No. 1, a steel mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft ballasted to simulate the weight and center of gravity of the flight article. Boilerplate No. 1, manufactured by McDonnell, was delivered to Northrop Ventura on August 1. Drops Nos. 5 and 6 were simple weight drops to determine the structural characteristics of the main parachute. Beginning with drop No. 7, tests were conducted through the entire sequencing of the system from a altitude of 10,000 feet. Through drop No. 13, the main problem was tucking; the edge of the parachute tended to tuck under, hindering full inflation. Drop tests Nos. 5 through 13 were conducted from September through November 1962. The tucking problem was resolved with drop No. 14. Remaining tests in the series demonstrated the structural integrity of the parachute system when deployed at maximum dynamic pressure. Qualification drop tests were expected to begin in April.

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