NASA Looks to Specialized Parachutes To Help Cubesats

NASA is seemingly always one step away from coming across new technology that can fundamentally change the game. When we think of NASA inventions and NASA progression, we don’t commonly think of technology that we are familiar with. However, this isn’t the case for this latest breaking news. According to a report from NASA, the team is developing a specialized parachute that can help to land their CubeSats safely, more efficiently, and more effectively than ever.

The parachute system that NASA is developing looks akin to a cross and was used during their latest test with a small nanosatellite. The parachute is called the Exo-Brake and it would give NASA the ability to safely return smaller satellites to Earth without having to worry about utilizing rock boosters in order to direct their landing. The benefits of being able to shrug off the need of rocket boosters are so immense as to almost not need explaining

The latest nanosatellite to be launched by NASA was the TechEdSat-6 which was sent to the International Space Station on November 12th. NASA has been developing their Technology Educational Satellite Series and this is the sixth satellite to be launched as part of the program and the fourth to use the Exo-Brake during its return.

Right now, the Exo-Brake uses flexible cords in order to help warp and shape the parachute as it deploys. Marcus Murbach is the inventor of the Exo-Brake and he describes it, “Much like how the Wright Brothers used warping to control the flight behavior of their first wing design.” Murbach and NASA’s engineers believe that they will be able to use the Exo-Break to steer their nanosatellites to the correct landing zones without the need for fuel. One of the primary benefits of foregoing rocket boosters and the associated fuel is the sheer payload that needs to be handled. Being able to shrug away all of this excess weight will turn the NASA nanosatellite program into a much leaner and more efficient system.

NASA has long been embracing the ease and efficiency of building and deploying small satellites. The advent of the Exo-Brake would further make their job even easier, thus making nanosatellites an even more common way for NASA to perform important and varying missions. The Exo-Brake has a ton of potential uses in the future and it remains to be seen how it will be deployed completely, as of yet