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Heathcoat’s ripstop to the Red Planet’s surface

Heathcoat, based in Tiverton, Devon, has become the supplier of choice for NASA, the European Space Agency and private space exploration companies.

19th February 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Tiverton, United Kingdom

Transport/​Aerospace

UK technical textiles producer Heathcoat Fabrics supplied the fabric for the parachute with which NASA’s Perseverance Rover successfully landed on the surface of Mars on Thursday evening (February 18th).

Heathcoat, based in Tiverton, Devon, has become the supplier of choice for NASA, the European Space Agency and private space exploration companies, and is also a supplier of its technical woven and warp knitted materials to both military and civilian aerospace companies, including Airbus.

The fabric it supplied for the Perseverance canopy was specially designed to strengthen as it faced extraordinarily high temperatures in unfurling. It helped to put the brakes on the vehicle after it pierced the Martian atmosphere and slowed from supersonic speeds of around 12,500mph to 200mph before touchdown.

Members of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover team watch in mission control as the first images arrive moments after the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. © NASA/Bill Ingalls.

The spacecraft’s self-guided descent and landing involved a complex series of manoeuvres dubbed “the seven minutes of terror” by NASA and will go down in history as the most elaborate and challenging feat in robotic spaceflight to date.

The six-wheeled rover survived this perilous descent to land within its target zone inside the Jezero crater – the site of a long-vanished Martian lake.

© Heathcoat Fabrics Ltd.

The Perseverance Rover has been described as the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another world and is looking to uncover traces of ancient life while collecting soil and rock samples for examination back on Earth.

Heathcoat has also designed the parachute for the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover, which is scheduled to land on Mars in 2023.

www.heathcoat.co.uk

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