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Crew eXchange Vehicle Drop Testing

CXV Drop Test Article following parachute deployment. In 2005 Transformational Space (t/SPace) Corporation tasked Holder Aerospace with the planning, execution, and analysis of a full scale drop test of their Crew eXchange Vehicle (CXV). Holder Aerospace had already been supporting t/Space with extensive engineering analysis on the vehicle.

A parachute drop test was conducted on 8th August 2005 in Crescent City, California to evaluate the CXV descent and recovery system and gather data for design refinement. The test vehicle included a representative mass, center of gravity location, and shape of the full-scale design. Attached to the vehicle were three 86 ft diameter ringsail canopies, which provide for the deceleration and terminal descent of the CXV.

In this test, the vehicle was suspended from a heavy-lift helicopter, and released at an altitude of approximately 9500 ft. A chase helicopter was used for video capture, while real-time telemetry was acquired at a receiving station setup on a fishing trawler.

Leveraging Holder Aerospace's experience in large aerospace test program management, coupled with innovative technological approaches to low-cost data acquisition and test-article construction, allowed t/Space to achieve this hardware testing milestone very early in the vehicle development program. The flight date was achieved without slipping, and the budget met constraints with reserve remaining.

Operational sequence of events for the CXV parachute test.

These programmatic objectives were met through frequent team communications and flexible team-balanced priorities. Cost, quality, availability, safety, redundancy, and reliability were assessed at every step both programmatically and technically, by all the team members involved. This approach was successful due to the quality of the personnel selected by Holder Aerospace to work on this project, including the service providers at the drop site.