Tiverton firm producing more parachute fabric for Mars

A company in Devon is designing a new fabric for a parachute to land on Mars.

Heathcoat Fabrics in Tiverton is collaborating with NASA again after successfully developing the parachute material to transport a rover to Mars in 2021.

Due to the size of the vehicle it is delivering, the current cloth must be twice as robust as the previous one.

NASA representatives paid them a visit on Tuesday.

“Our objective is to develop an even bigger lander that will fly to Mars and potentially be able to package up samples and bring them back, and to land that we need a bigger parachute that can take on much more gear,” said Katie Siegel, Systems Engineer at NASA.

The company’s “market leaders in this industry,” according to Peter Hill, director of Woven Fabrics.

“We’ve been making parachute materials for almost 90 years, since the 1930s, & on top of that, we have innovative new machinery that permits us to create more comprehensive fabric than anyone else, which is essential for larger parachutes,” he explained.

“We have high-tech fabrics that are substantially stronger than any different fabrics on the market; they have more increased heat resistance, which is important since the fabrics need to be treated at that high temperature before they travel into space.

“Other fabrics, such as those produced in the U.S, have passed such tests. We have a team of textile engineers working on these things that can create bespoke products that no one else can.”

The fabrics are created and manufactured in Tiverton.

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