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Why does my parachute turn red in KSP? Could it have something to do with the fact that my parachute won't even deploy? Or is it just a rookie mistake? I'm using an MK16 chute with the MK1 command pod.

I am trying to re-enter Kerbin with a minimum deploy pressure of 0.12, and an altitude of 1200. What's going on?

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Generally, you don't need to mess around with the deploy pressure and altitude, but what you've set it to isn't what's causing your issues. You've somehow managed to damage your parachute, but it's difficult to tell how this happened. This is indicated by the chute itself being coloured red. If the background is colour dark red, this indicates that you should not stage the chute, as it is likely to become damaged; wait until the background at least turns slightly yellow.

As far as I know, the most likely causes are heat damage (did you re-enter nose first?), or you deployed it while travelling too fast in thick enough atmosphere (i.e. below the altitude for the semi-deploy pressure). I find the second option unlikely, as you've set that altitude to below 10km, significantly lower than the default of about 17.5km, and in order to be travelling fast enough (roughly mach 0.9), you'd have to have a pretty steep re-entry from a starting altitude probably outside of Kerbin's sphere of influence.

For more information, have a look at the KSP wiki article.

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It is not clear what you mean with "your parachute turns red", because the foreground color and background color of the parachute icon have different meanings.

The foreground color represents the current status of the parachute

  • White: safely packed
  • Cyan: activated, but still packed because the atmospheric pressure is still below the configured "Min Pressure"
  • Yellow: partially deployed, because the distance to the surface is still above the configured "Altitude".
  • Green: fully deployed
  • Red: Destroyed. Note that you will usually also get a text message "Parachute destroyed by aerodynamic forces" when this happens.

The background color of the parachute icon represents what's likely going to happen if it would get unpacked in the current situation:

  • Red: It's almost guaranteed that it will get destroyed immediately
  • Yellow: It might or might not survive if it opens now
  • Grey: It is save to open the parachute

But in any case: parachutes will only open if the stage they are on is activated or if they are activated manually by right-clicking on the part and pressing the deploy button. The logic works like this:

   +-----------------------+
   | Did the player deploy | Yes
   | this parachute        +-----------------+
   | manually?             |                 |
   +-----------------------+                 |
              |                              |
              |No                            |
              |                              |
              v                              |
   +-----------------------+        +--------v----------+
   |Did the player activate| Yes    |Is the atmospheric |
   |the stage this         +-------->pressure above the |
   |parachute is on?       |        |configured value?  |
   +-----------------------+        +-------------------+
                                             | Yes
                                    +--------v----------+
                                    |Deploy parachute   |
                                    |partially          |
                                    +-------------------+
                                             | 
                                  +----------v-------------+
                                  | Is the height above    |
                                  | ground lower than      |
                                  | the configured value?  |
                                  +------------------------+
                                             | Yes
                                    +--------v-----------+
                                    | Deploy parachute   |
                                    | fully              |
                                    +--------------------+

(graphic created with ASCIIFlow)

That means if you trust the atmospheric pressure setting you've set, you can theoretically activate the parachute while still in orbit. But if you want to retain control, you should hover over the spacebar during reentry and press it when the parachute icons turns grey.

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