Crew eXchange Vehicle Drop Testing
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
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.