A310 ZERO-G Airbus
It was then tried to push out the balloon manually by pressing on the back side of the container, which also did not work. Not even pulling at the pod could release the balloon. Only after pushing on the back side of the “blossom” in the following parabola the balloon moved out of the container and the blossom fully unfolded. The balloon then was in the pre-inflation state as required.
This means the test is failed since this action needs to happen without manual interaction.
The conclusion is, the spring mechanism on the back side of the „blossom“ is not strong enough to deploy the balloon and has to be made stronger. Therefore the mechanism needs a re-design. It is planned to do force measurements and also ground-based deployment tests with a dummy, before as a final test, another deployment test in zero-g is planned.
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Figure 1: The hard ware. credit: Mars Society Deutschland
Figure 2: The hard ware. credit: Mars Society Deutschland
Figure 3: Test setup in the A310 in deployment configuration. credit: Mars Society Deutschland
Figure 4: Pod after activation of cable cutters, with pod only deployed by 2-3 cm in the 1st of the two test parabolas. credit: Mars Society Deutschland
Figure 5: Deployed balloon after manual help in the 2nd test parabola. State of the deployed balloon is as required. credit: Mars Society Deutschland
Figure 6: The balloon after unfolding (with manual help by Frédéric Gai from Novespace) credit: Mars Society Deutschland