Designed by the European Space Agency, the Beagle 2 spacecraft was part of a project dedicated to finding life on Mars planet. Lindstrand Technologies won the contract to design, develop and manufacture the parachute, which would slow down the spacecraft from speeds of Mach 1.3 to a velocity of 17m/s.
There were three major challenges in the project. The first was to develop materials that could withstand temperatures down to –88C. The second was to develop a fabric testing facility that could carry out all the testing in the exact simulated atmosphere on Mars. The third challenge was to ensure that no out-gassing would take place on Mars and that the entire parachute is sterile.
Lindstrand Technologies won the contract thanks to its advanced in-house testing facilities. Company’s testing equipment and a high altitude chamber could carry out all fabric tear and tensile testing, as well as out-gassing check in the exact Mars atmosphere. A special clean room was also constructed for this project.
The Beagle 2 parachute was the most advanced parachute ever built. It was delivered on time and on budget in December 2002, and was launched into space on a Russian Soyuz rocket in June of the following year, and subsequently landed on Mars' surface on Christmas Day 2003.
In January 2006, the explorer spacecraft orbiting Mars sent back pictures showing that the parachute worked as intended, however, the Beagle 2 got jammed between two rocks, which fouled the solar panels.