GLXP News: ARCA to Test Parachutes for ExoMars Landing

VALCEA, Romania (ARCA PR) — ARCA and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a $1.1 million contract for the ExoMars, High Altitude Drop Test – Balloon Flight Services Program (HADT-BFS). During the contract, ARCA will contribute to the 2016 ExoMars spacecraft program by testing its parachutes, that will allow it to safely land on Mars.

The cooperation decision was taken after preliminary meetings between ARCA and ESA. On these meetings, the European Space Agency presented the program’s requirements while ARCA responded to these requirements by its own technical capabilities and expertise.

ARCA will build two large high altitude balloons and two testing vehicles weighting more than half a tone each. The vehicle, named the DTV, or Drop Test Vehicle, will be launched from 30 km altitude, over the Black Sea. The vehicle will fall until it will reach a speed up to 0.8 Mach. At this transonic speed, the DTV will deploy the parachutes to test them in flight, in the simulated Martian atmospheric conditions. The flight data will be transmitted from the DTV to the ARCA’s Flight Command and Control Center.

“ARCA will test the parachutes for the ExoMars spacecraft in 2013, during the High Altitude Drop Test Program. After the program completion we must qualify the parachutes, that will allow the ExoMars spacecraft to safely land on the Martian surface.” – Don McCoy – ESA, ExoMars Project Manager.

“Space exploration is ARCA’s main long term objective and our involvement in the ExoMars program is part of our vision. For the ExoMars program ARCA will build the hardware and will perform the flights that will make possible the spacecraft’s parachutes tests.” – Dumitru Popescu, ARCA President

About ExoMars

The European Space Agency’s ExoMars Program aims to the exploration of planet Mars.

The mission will be launched in January 2016 on a Proton rocket. The spacecraft will comprise an Orbiter and a Lander (Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module – EDM). The flight to Mars will take around 9 months.

Three days before reaching Mars, the EDM will be ejected from the Orbiter and will enter into the Mars atmosphere. It will decelerate using a parachute and will softly land on the Martian soil using retrorockets. The EDM will provide Europe with the technology for landing on the surface of Mars with a controlled landing orientation and touchdown velocity.

The ExoMars Orbiter will be inserted into an elliptical orbit around Mars and then sweep through the atmosphere to finally settle into a circular, 400-km altitude orbit ready to conduct its scientific mission.

ExoMars website:


ARCA is a non profit organization and its main objective is the exploration of space. In order to reach this objective, ARCA is working to the development of cost effective space vehicles. We are using technologies already existent, in an innovative way, that allow access to space on a large scale by reducing financial constraints.

In 10 years of activity, ARCA gained an unique experience, using the lowest budgets compared to its aerospace achievements.

In order to facilitate access to space, we are developing the Haas series orbital launchers, using safe and affordable technologies.

The key element in reaching our objectives is the Executor engine with a thrust to weight ratio of 110, being the third in the world by this criteria. It is also the cheapest first stage engine ever created.

Another element that contributes to the reduced cost of the rockets are the composite
materials fuel tanks, that have an empty mass of only 1.2% of the launch mass. Also in this case performance comes at a reduced cost.

ARCA website:

  • usk0

    It’s not the most sophisticated thought on the internet, but I want to say it so here it is anyway:


  • Bogdan

    $1.1 million for a 30km parachute drop test? Seriously?!

  • Marcus Zottl

    I’m not really sure if this is a good or bad thing yet. I basically view ARCA as a publicity stunt team these days. Maybe they can restore some of their reputation with this project, but I would not bet on it.