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Parachute

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Parachutes are parts that when deployed slow down the speed of a craft in an atmosphere by creating drag. In career mode this allows to recover craft landed on Kerbin which returns funds.

While in theory it is possible to recover boosters like the Solid Rocket Boosters of the Space Shuttle with parachutes, it's difficult in practice because all craft outside the 2.5 km sphere around the controlled craft while in the lower atmosphere are getting removed. The timing has to be so that the circularization of the orbit with the main craft is not while the boosters are in the lower atmosphere.[1]

Contents

Usage

The options on a Mk16 Parachute

Parachutes are used on bodies with atmospheres such as Kerbin and Eve to slow the craft for a landing. The deceleration depends on both the mass of the craft and the density of the atmosphere. Therefore crafts that are either very heavy or land on bodies with thin atmospheres (Duna, Laythe) require either multiple parachutes or additional engines for a soft landing. Parachutes can also be used to aid with aerobraking to create additional drag. On the other hand, a heavier parachute part generates more drag than a lighter parachute. Parachutes can also be used to help stop space planes as they land.

Parachutes require a minimum air pressure to deploy, so they will work neither in higher parts of atmospheres nor in a vacuum (see Deployment). In addition, parachutes are cut automatically on the ground and can't be used, for example, to aid in slowing a landing aircraft once it's already on the runway. The part's mass isn't affected when the parachute is cut. A deployed parachute will cut automatically during descent if propulsion is used to increase vertical speed past zero.

A deployed parachute can also be cut manually (right-click on parachute and executing Cut Parachute). Once cut, they can be repacked by nearby Kerbals on EVA (right-click on parachute and executing Repack Chute). Repacked Parachutes can be deployed like fresh ones, although not automatically via the staging sequence.

Pre-0.18 Mk16-XL in VAB/SPH
Pre-0.18 Mk16 in VAB/SPH

Before version 0.18 the image shown in the part selector of the VAB and SPH showed the parachute deployed. Since then all parachutes are shown stowed.

Parts

There are currently four options for parachutes.

Drag Deployment
Image Part Radial size Cost
(Fund)
Mass
(t)
Stowed Semi-Deployed Fully Deployed Semi-Deploy Pressure
(atm)
Full-Deploy Altitude
(m AGL)
Mk16 Parachute.png
Mk16 Parachute Tiny 422 0.1 0.22 1 500 0.01 500
Mk16-XL Parachute.png
Mk16-XL Parachute Small 850 0.3 0.22 1 500 0.01 500
Mk2-R Parachute.png
Mk2-R Radial-Mount Parachute Radial mounted 700 0.15 0.22 1 500 0.01 500
Mk25 Parachute.png
Mk25 Parachute Small 400 0.2 0.22 4 170 0.007 2 500

Deployment

Parachutes semi-deploy at different altitudes on different bodies, depending on the local atmospheric pressure. Rough semi deployment altitudes are shown below. In contrast to semi deployment the full deployment depends on height above ground, not pressure. Full-deploy altitudes can be found in the above table. With the tweakables added in version 0.23 the deployment pressures and altitudes can be modified. It is not possible to semi-deploy the parachute sooner. The tables show the default deployment altitudes and pressures.

Semi-Deployment Altitude (m)
Image Part Eve Kerbin Duna Jool Laythe
Mk16 Parachute.png
Mk16 Parachute 43 502 23 026 8 987 73 132 17 528
Mk16-XL Parachute.png
Mk16-XL Parachute 43 502 23 026 8 987 73 132 17 528
Mk2-R Parachute.png
Mk2-R Radial-Mount Parachute 43 502 23 026 8 987 73 132 17 528
Mk25 Parachute.png
Mk25 Parachute 45 999 24 809 10 057 76 699 18 955

References

  1. Kerbal Space Program - Recovery And Reuse Tutorial in First Contract” on YouTube by Scott Manley