All of the U.S. manned spacecraft prior to the Space Shuttle returned to earth using systems of parachutes, which were deployed sequentially at various altitudes. To develop and test the earth landing systems, parachutes of various sizes and configurations were procured by NASA beginning in the early 1960s. Once the development and testing program was complete, a number of parachutes were declared surplus and offered to the Smithsonian for its collection.
The main chutes used by the Apollo Command Module were of the "ring sail" design. This parachute is one of the ring sail models used for development and testing in the Apollo program. At 88.1 ft in diameter, it is slightly larger than the 83.6 ft diameter models that were actually deployed.
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration