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[i]ILC Dover recently delivered six air-bag systems to Boeing, though a price was not disclosed. Boeing expects to begin test-landing its vehicle, using a crane, but no parachute, in coming weeks...
This most recent air-bag system for Boeing was originally designed for the Orion spacecraft, but the air bags were shed to save weight. Boeing hopes to use ILC's system essentially as landing gear for its 16,000 pound, funnel-shaped, Apollo-like capsule.
To soften the landing, one large air bag is stuffed inside another. The outside bag, which resembles a gigantic version of a car's air bag, includes a set of "blowout patches" that open up and allow air to escape, thereby cushioning the blow. Even under a parachute, the capsule could fall 35 feet per second.
As the top air bag flattens, the one inside serves as a buffer, keeping the capsule from running aground.
ILC's landing gear is also designed to keep the capsule from flipping over, and it should allow Boeing's product to escape space-to-Earth landings unscathed.[/i]
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