The Near Space team works with many customers who have challenging requirements and are doing extremely interesting projects. Working with the European Space Agency, Thales Alenia Space, and Vorticity Systems Limited for testing the Entry/Descent/Landing (EDL) parachute systems for their ExoMars project has definitely been both challenging and interesting.
This project required that Near Space fly the test system to an altitude of over 100,000 feet in the FAA controlled National Airspace System, make all coordination and deconfliction for the ascending and descending flights, and then safely release the test system so that the parachutes and deployment sequence could be tested with the same gravitational acceleration and atmospheric density as they will experience on Mars. All of the descending equipment was then collected for detailed analysis.
It was a great experience to work with the teams from ESA, TAS, and Vorticity for this project. Even with the challenges of the global COVID pandemic, the team accomplished the mission. Conducting the tests was also made possible with the outstanding support of Berg Air and Columbia Helicopters. We are pleased to release this video, which documents the day of the flight test. NSC would like to thank Timberland Helicopters and Quantum Dynamics, LLC for capturing the video imagery and producing this outstanding video.