Tiverton firm making more parachute fabric for Mars

Posted: January 25, 2023 at 8:04 am

The fabrics are designed and made in the Tiverton factory

A company in Devon is developing a new fabric to be used on a parachute to land on Mars.

Heathcoat Fabrics in Tiverton are working with NASA again, after successfully creating the parachute material that took a rover to the red planet in 2021.

The latest fabric needs to be twice as strong as that one, due to the size of vehicle it is delivering.

On Tuesday they were visited by representatives of NASA.

Katie Siegel, Systems Engineer at NASA said: "Our plan is to build an even bigger lander that will go to Mars and hopefully 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 load."

LISTEN: Heathcote Fabrics talk to BBC Radio Devon

Peter Hill, director of Woven Fabrics, explained the reason the firm are the "market leaders in this field".

"We have been making parachute fabrics since the 1930s, about 90 years, and on top of that we have got innovative new machinery, we can make wider fabric than anyone else which is necessary for the bigger parachutes," he said.

The material has to be twice as strong as the previous parachute the firm made for NASA

"We have high-tech products that are much stronger than any other fabrics on the market, They have got higher heat resistance which is necessary because the fabrics need to be treated at that high temperature before they go into space.

"Other fabrics - made in the US for example - have failed those tests. We have got a team of textile engineers who work on these products and can design bespoke products that nobody else can do."

The fabrics are designed and made in their Tiverton factory.

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Tiverton firm making more parachute fabric for Mars

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