I know this is a little late, but apparently t/space has tested the parachute system of its planned design for the next generation launch vehicle it wants to build to replace the shuttle.
I guess pretty binders and colorful artistic renderings aren't considered enough to the boys at t/space. No they actually want to build something that can get humanity off this stunted rock. You know, actually show progress. Give some bang for NASA's buck.
Finally, someone's doing something and showing some progress in light the troubles with the Shuttle lately. But I have no faith whatsoever that NASA, even under Mike Griffin's command, will make the right choice and go with t/space over the other big aerospace companies.
This is about politics. There is no way that Congress will ever let NASA do something like this - it makes to much sense. No, I think in the end this will just go in that black box of crap where all good ideas rejected by NASA go.
If I'm wrong, well I'll be happier than crap.