SpaceX recently announced that they have now successfully completed 13 tests of the Mark 3 parachute mission. The certification required ten successful tests in a row. The most recent test was done differently than others. During testing, the fourth parachute was purposely not deployed to stimulate the unlikely failure of one of the main chutes upon return from orbit or a SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying crew or cargo. SpaceX posted an edited and shortened video of the full test. The video shows a test sled of the same weight as a capsule being pulled out of a cargo aircraft. Three large chutes deploy as the sleds slides out and start to slow the sled’s descent. The parachutes initially look like long high altitude weather balloons and then transition to the highly flared traditional balloons.
Elon Musk had stated that ten consecutive tests need to be surpassed in order to obtain certification and the thirteenth test could mean that certification is on the way.
Mark 3 parachutes are made of Zylon instead of Nylon for the lines of the parachute. Zylon is about three times stronger than Nylon. The stitching patterns on the Mark 3 chutes have also been changed to improve the load balance. The chutes will be installed in the Dragon capsules once flight status is granted to SpaceX.