SpaceX buys parachute manufacturer Pioneer Aerospace

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida on Monday, September 4, 2023 (EDT). The capsule returned from the International Space Station with the Crew-6 members Stephen Bowen, Woody Hoburg, Sultan AlNeyadi and Konstantin Borisov after 185 days.
Infrared view of SpaceX's Crew Dragon "Endeavour" as it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. The capsule returned from the International Space Station with Crew-6 — Steve Bowen, Woody Hoburg, Sultan AlNeyadi and Andrey Fedyaev — after 186 days. (Image credit: NASA TV)

SpaceX has acquired Pioneer Aerospace, a company that provided components for Dragon spacecraft parachutes before filing for bankruptcy. 

Elon Musk's aerospace company paid $2.2 million to rescue Pioneer Aerospace , according to a Florida bankruptcy filing in November by Aviation Safety Resources (ASR), the parent company of Pioneer. The deal was first reported by The Information.

Pioneer Aerospace is based in Connecticut and has long developed parachutes for space and other applications. This included drogue chutes for SpaceX Dragon capsules and NASA Mars and asteroid sample-return missions.

Related: Facts about SpaceX's Dragon capsule

SpaceNews reports that it is speculated that SpaceX made the acquisition to protect its supply chains.

The article states that parachutes pose very complex challenges, citing Phil McAlister, director of the commercial spaceflight division at NASA Headquarters. Commenting on lessons learned from the commercial crew program last month, McAlister said: "'We've done parachutes during Apollo, how hard could it be?' It could be very hard."

Both SpaceX and Boeing have faced challenges in developing parachutes for their commercial crew spacecraft.

Business Insider notes that the deal is a rare acquisition for SpaceX and was the first since it bought satellite startup Swarm in 2021 to expand its Starlink satellite network. 

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.