Development and Testing of a Drogue Parachute System for X-37 Altv/B-52h Separation

9781289291716: Development and Testing of a Drogue Parachute System for X-37 Altv/B-52h Separation

Multiple scenarios were identified in which the X-37 approach and landing test vehicle (ALTV) catastrophically recontacts the B-52H carrier aircraft after separation. The most cost-effective recontact risk mitigation is the prelaunch deployment of a drogue parachute that is released after the X-37 ALTV has safely cleared the B-52H. After release, a fully-inflated drogue parachute takes 30 min to reach ground and results in a large footprint that excessively restricts the days available for flight. To reduce the footprint, a passive collapse mechanism consisting of an elastic reefing line attached to the parachute skirt was developed. At flight loads the elastic is stretched, allowing full parachute inflation. After release, drag loads drop dramatically and the elastic line contracts, reducing the frontal drag area. A 50 percent drag reduction results in an approximately 75 percent ground footprint reduction. Eleven individual parachute designs were evaluated at flight load dynamic pressures in the High Velocity Airflow System (HIVAS) at the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC), China Lake, California. Various options for the elastic reefing system were also evaluated at HIVAS. Two best parachute designs were selected from HIVAS to be carried forward to flight test. Detailed HIVAS test results are presented in this report.

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