Introducing the Parachute Research Group

Introducing the Parachute Research Group

The DARE parachute research group (PRG) was founded in February 2018 when the DARE and Stratosrecovery teams merged. The merger allowed for the resources to be better used and as the goals of the teams were close together the merger was smooth. Before the merger, the DARE recovery team was mainly working on Aether and deployment devices where the Stratos recovery team on Stratos III and simulations. Both teams were, however, working together on production and during wind tunnel tests. The merger allowed for the resources to be better streamlined. This also allowed the team to think of new test platforms and new missions. Currently, the team is working on the following missions.

Flagship missions

With the continuation of the Stratos project and the aim to reach space, the Stratos III recovery system requires modifications to allow for the safe return of the nose cone. The Stratos IV recovery team is tasked with this great feature of engineering. The second flagship mission is known as Aether. Aetheris a low cost and supersonic testbed for which PRG supplies the recovery system. The Aether recovery system was the basis for the Stratos III and Stratos IV recovery systems. For both missions, PRG cooperates with the other teams within DARE.

The Stratos III nosecone under the drogue parachute
The Stratos III nosecone under the drogue parachute

Internal missions

The internal missions are tasked to increase the knowledge on parachute systems to increase the technology readiness level for the flagship missions. The two missions in this category at the moment are the PIP and SPEAR. The Parachute InvestigationProject or PIP is a low-cost test vehicle that can fly a dive down from apogee and open the parachute just before it reaches the ground. The fall allows for testing of parachutes at high velocities and dynamic pressures. These velocities are about five to ten times higher as can be reached in the wind tunnel. The second mission, Supersonic Parachute Experiment Aboard REXUS, SPEARis a new project that has been approved on December 7th for a flight onboard the 12th cycle of REXUS as a part of the REXUS/BEXUS program. As the test vehicle is released from about 80 km it can take free fall to supersonic velocities. At about 1.5 times the speed of sound, the drogue parachute is inflated.

For both missions, the performance of the parachute is measured using accelerometers, gyroscopes, load pins, and cameras. As the missions are PRG internal there is no or limited cooperation with the other teams within DARE.  

The SPEAR capsule
The SPEAR capsule

Simulations

PRG has two simulation tools that can be used for predicting parachute loads. These are known as ParSim and TumSim. Where ParSim is a 2DOF tool, TumSim is a full 6DOFtool. However, where TumSim can only model the rocket body without a parachute, ParSim is fully equipped to determine the parachute performance. At the moment the team is readying ParSim v3 for external release aimed to be released early2019. Interested in helping out with testing? Send an email to DARE and we will be in touch.

Research and Development

The R&D segment of PRG consists of three major elements: Advanced concepts, material characterization and wind tunnel testing. At the moment PRG has one project in the category advanced concepts, this is the R2B or Return to Base project that aims to build a steerable parachute to fly the rocket back to the launch site. This would remove the need for complex retrieval hardware and would make retrieval much faster. Also, it would allow for faster access to the payload as the landing location is known and predictable.

R2B demonstrator in the wind tunnel
R2B demonstrator in the wind tunnel

The material characterization is done using, amongst others, tensile testing machines. This in combination with wind tunnel testing allows PRG to get a good understanding of the performance and stability of the parachute. But it also allows for making estimations into the ultimate loads the parachute can take before failing. The team is continuously increasing the reliability and accuracy of our ground-based test setups and is working towards a fully automated testbench to be ready for the March 2019 campaign.

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