Video

The Paraglider: How NASA Tried and Failed to Land Without Parachutes

The Rogallo wing was NASA's multi-million dollar 1960s attempt to stop ending its missions with splashdowns. It didn't work out.

Splashdowns may be iconic of the Apollo era but they weren't ideal. Aside from employing huge numbers of naval ships per mission, it put the astronauts, who were all ace pilots, at risk of drowning. Why not land on a runway? Well, NASA tried with the Rogallo paraglider wing. Barely a footnote in popular histories of the space age, it was a fascinating program though failed attempt to make splashdowns obsolete.

There is so much more to say about this than I could fit into a short video, so for more on the Rogallo wing program check out the (rather long) blog post over on Vintage Space.

And there's loads of olde timey space to dig into on my blog, Vintage Space, too!

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