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Dynamic Model Investigation of the Landing Characteristics of a Manned Spacecraft

By William C. Thompson


Investigations were made to study the water-landing and certain grounds-surface landing characteristics of a Gemini spacecraft model. The water landing experiments were made by simulating paraglider and parachute letdowns with two 1/6- scale model configurations. Parameters included various combinations of attitude, horizontal speed, vertical speed, and landing skids extended and retracted. Investigations were made in calm water and in waves. The paraglider landings at horizontal speeds of 63 feet per second (19.8 m/sec) which resulted in a noseover or tumbling shortly after initial water contact. The maximum longitudinal acceleration of the model in calm water was about 14g units, and the maximum angular acceleration was 66 radians per second squared. In the parachute landings with the heat shield forward, the model skidded along the water surface on the heat shield. Parachute landings with the small end forward resulted in behavior similar to that of the paraglider landings. The ground-surface landings were made with a 1/3-scale model by simulating a parachute letdown with braking rockets, which were fired prior to touchdown to dissipate vertical velocity. In these landings, control of timing and aligning the rockets on the model was very critical, and violent behavior resulted when either rocket alignment or timing was in error. In the landings that were correctly controlled, the model either remained upright or slowly rolled over on its side

Topics: Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Year: 1964
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