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NASA and SpaceX Studying Parachute Issue but Don’t See Major Safety Concern

Enlarge / NASA Television of the Crew-2 landing shows three main parachutes deployed, with a fourth one lagging behind. (credit: NASA TV)

Officials from NASA and SpaceX say that they are paying attention to a parachute issue with the Dragon spacecraft, but they do not believe significant actions will be needed to address it.

Upon returning to Earth from orbit, both the Crew and the latest Cargo versions of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft use four main parachutes to slow the capsule before it impacts the water. If one parachute fails, the spacecraft can still land safely.

During the first two crewed flights of the Dragon spacecraft in 2020 and 2021, all four parachutes inflated nominally. However, when the Crew-2 mission carrying four astronauts returned to Earth in November 2021, one of the four parachutes was delayed by 75 seconds before it fully inflated. This had no effect on the spacecraft’s planned descent rate because the extended parachute still offered some drag.

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