The C-17 has been used extensively during the development of the NASA Orion for airdrop of the Orion CEV Parachute Assembly System (CPAS), a system designed to test the recovery parachutes. Both of these airdrop programs have been completed on the ranges at Edwards AFB, California, and Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in Arizona.
Here the Orion CPAS test vehicle is rigged on an airdrop platform and loaded into the back of an Edwards AFB, C-17. This photo of the aft end of the C-17 shows the strakes added to the aft empennage during developmental testing to alter airflow and thus prevent the collapse of drogue chutes trailing from the aircraft.
The Orion mated to a rigged airdrop platform just after extraction. Two or three parachutes create drag to pull the platform over rollers on the aircraft’s cargo compartment floor out the cargo door. With careful examination, you can also see the flaps extended for the airdrop. Extension of the flaps serves two purposes: control of the aircraft pitch attitude or deck angle and increased lift at slower speeds.
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