Coming Down to Earth…Safely

28 Sep 2021

On Saturday, September 18, the four crewmembers of the SpaceX Inspiration4 capsule returned safely to earth. The ocean landing off the coast of Florida went smoothly and demonstrated the months (years) of preparation, the engineering and the swift orchestration of descent procedures.

The controlled descent begins when the capsule is initially slowed upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. This aerodynamic drag could destabilize the capsule and make it uncomfortable for the crew. At that point, two small drogue parachutes are automatically deployed, which slow the descent a little more. However, their main purpose is to deploy four huge landing parachutes.  In the final stage of descent, the capsule and landing parachutes drift with the prevailing wind, so these main parachutes are deployed at the lowest possible altitude in order to increase the accuracy of the capsule landing in the target zone.

To assist in the recovery of the capsule, each of the main canopies has two main cords limiting their opening. The lines are cut at pre-determined time intervals to allow a controlled opening which helps achieve a safe touchdown velocity.

Airborne Systems congratulates SpaceX and the Inspiration4 Crew on a successful mission and above all, a safe landing.