News - 2020

17-12-2020 - Chang'e 5 returns to earth

The Chinese Lunar sample return mission Chang'e 5 has returned to earth. The capsule entered the atmosphere above the Arabian Sea before performing a planned skip. The capsule dipped to about 60 km inside the atmosphere and skipped back to 140 km apogee. It then landed in Inner Mongolia where the capsule was retrieved. 

08-12-2020 - Boeing starliner completes final high altitude drop test

Boeing has completed the final drop test of the Starliner parachute system. A capsule was dropped from just over 10 km altitude where a non-nominal flight was simulated. One of the parachutes removing the thermal protection system was set not to deploy, and the system was only equipped with a single drogue parachute. This leads to higher loads on the single drogue but also higher loads on the main parachute cluster. The used parachute system was not only subjected to higher than nominal loads; it was also a previously flown parachute system. 

05-12-2020 - Hayabusa2 re-enters the atmosphere

After a long flight in space, the Hayabusa 2 capsule re-entered over the Australian outback. The 40cm diameter capsule entered with 11.6 km/s and landed safely after a few minutes. 

02-12-2020 - Chang'e 5 lands safely on the moon

23-11-2020 - China launches Chang'e 5

The heavy launcher Long March 5 launched the Lunar sample return Chang'e 5. The mission is the first sample return mission since Luna 24 in 1976. 

20-11-2020 - Rocket lab completes first stage landing

Last night Electron, of Rocket lab, safely landed under its parachute. The stage performed a successful re-entry followed by a successful parachute deployment.

09-11-2020 - ExoMars parachutes tested at high altitude

Today high altitude drop tests were performed in support of the ESA ExoMars mission. A capsule was lifted to about 29km using a balloon where it was released. During the tests, the canopy suffered some damage during the inflation, but the vehicle landed safely. 

05-11-2020 - Rocket lab to test Electron reusability in Flight 16 

Rocket Lab has announced that they will do a full reusability test in their upcoming Flight 16. During flight 10 and 11 Rocketlabs proved they could control the re-entry of the first stage and will now attempt to perform a parachute deployment. It is unclear what will be tested exactly, and whether it will include the mid-air reusability.

03-11-2020 - SPEAR has a new launch date

The Supersonic Parachute Experiment Aboard REXUS (SPEAR) to launch with the REXUS launch vehicle has a new launch date. The launch is now set between the 13th and 27th of February 2021. The mission has been delayed two times due to COVID-19.

20-10-2020 - OSIRIS-REx successfully "tags" Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx mission, launched in 2016 successfully tagged Asteroid Bennu to grab about 2 kg of raw material. This material will be sent back to the earth and is expected to land in Australia in 2023. 

18-10-2020 - Falcon 9 fairing breaks the net

During the landing of today's Starlink launch, one half of the fairing fell through the net of Ms Tree. It is unclear how this could have happened, but it is clear no crew was injured. 

13-10-2020 - New Shepard NS-13 successfully tests hardware for a precision moon landing

On the latest, New Shappard flight advanced hardware was tested for a more precise moon landing. This experiment called Safe and Precise Landing Integrated Capabilities Evolution (SPLICE). These systems use images of the terrain to find a landing location together with Doppler LIDAR for velocity identification.  

02-09-2020 - REXUS postponed 

The launch of the REXUS rockets planned for September 2020 has been postponed to no earlier than March 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. One of the rockets will carry the student build supersonic parachute experiment aboard REXUS (SPEAR). This mission will flight test a Hemisflo drogue parachute at supersonic conditions. 

More on SPEAR

05-08-2020 - Electron completes drop tests

The Rocketlab Electron rocket performed the final drop tests before the first recovery attempts. The parachute used for these missions was not the final parafoil. As the first test launches are not intended to be captured mid-air, the parafoil would not be required.


02-08-2020 - Demo Mission 2 (DM-2) performs a safe landing

The DM-2 mission with astronauts Bob and Dough made a safe landing in the Pacific ocean in their Dragon 2 capsule, named Endeavour. The mission marked the first splashdown of a US astronaut crew since the 1975 Apollo Soyuz test program.

More on the crew dragon


30-09-2020 - NASA launches Perseverance towards Mars

The Mars 2020 rover named Perseverance has been launched towards Mars. The mission will use the sky crane system, much like Curiosity. The main differences between the two EDL systems are that the Perseverance main parachute is slightly larger and the landing system is more accurate. Finally, there are multiple onboard camera's that will film the parachute inflation. 

23-09-2020 - China launches Tiawen-1 to Mars

With a planned landing date on the 23rd of April 2021, the Tiawen-1 mission will make China the third country to land on Mars successfully. The fourth organisation to "hit" Mars.

27-05-2020 - Student build supersonic parachute experiment set for launch

The Supersonic Parachute Experiment Aboard REXUS (SPEAR) mission by Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering has a new launch window. The launch will be between the 21st of September and the 3d of October 2020. The mission was earlier postponed due to the COVID-19 situation.

More on SPEAR

02-05-2020 - SpaceX final parachute test

Just before the launch of the first crewed mission from US soil since STS-135, space X performed their final parachute tests. These tests confirmed the functionality of the system and ensured a safe landing. 

06-04-2020- Boeing announces second orbital test flight for the Starliner

After the partial success of Orbital Flight Test 1 (OFT1), Boeing announced a second orbital test flight of the Starliner capsule to happen in December 2020

13-03-2020 - Exomars launch delayed

Today it was announced that the ESA Exomars mission had been delayed over a combination of concerns regarding the parachute system and the current coronavirus. 

03-02-2020 - REXUS launch with supersonic parachute experiment postponed

Today the news came out that the upcoming launches of REXUS 27 and REXUS 28 from Esrange have been postponed. The missions are delayed due to the current Corona outbreak. One experiment that was to fly was the Supersonic Parachute Experiment Aboard REXUS. Testing parachutes at supersonic conditions

31-01-2020 - Electron Flights 10 and 11 confirm Rocketlab's ability to re-enter the first stage

The Electron rocket has completed two successful atmospheric entries and will now continue with the parachute and parachute capture tests. 

19-01-2020 - Falcon 9 and crew dragon in-flight abort test

Today SpaceX demonstrated their ability to remove a crew from a failing rocket safely. During the test, the engines of the Falcon 9 were shut down, resulting in the capsule triggering a launch abort. The capsule was pushed away from the rocket using the SuperDraco thrusters after which the two drogue and four main parachutes ensured a safe landing.

22-12-2019 - Starliner OTF landing

The Starliner Orbital Test Flight was launched on the 20th of December 2019 with the main objective to fly a dress rehearsal of the Starliners crewed operations. The capsule was launched onboard a unique Atlas V N22 launcher, an atlas V without a fairing. Even though docking with the station was not possible as there were too little propellants on board, the majority of the mission objectives can still be achieved. This does not just include the ascent onboard the unique Atlas configuration, but also the decent phase of the capsule. Boeing did a pad abort test earlier this year demonstrating that the Starliner parachute system can safely return the capsule. Today's entry will demonstrate the same parachute system, this time hopefully with all three parachutes deploying successfully. The main test objectives of the OTF landing will be the de-orbit manoeuvres and the entry manoeuvres.

More on Starliner

06-12-2019 - Rocketlabs tests re-entry during Flight 10

Today Rocket Labs launched their tenth Electron rocket. The mission called "running out of fingers" launched six small satellites into orbit. Electron is an expendable small-class launcher; however, this flight will be the first re-entry experiment. The first stage has been equipped with reaction control thrusters to orient the rocket. This data will be used to enable reusability of future Electron rockets.