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Genesis and suborbital flights

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Thu Nov 25, 2004 10:31 am
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Genesis and suborbital flights 
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Post Genesis and suborbital flights   Posted on: Thu Nov 25, 2004 10:31 am
Genesis was designed to be catched from a helicopter after its descent down to the lowest regions of our atmosphere.

It would have been working if there wouldn't have occured an error while building Genesis I think.

If the error hadn't occurred Genesis would have been sinking down hanging from a parachute.

I don't know at what velocity Genesis crushed into the ground but in principle - and only in principle for the first time - I could imagine that a suborbital vehicle at its return from space could have catched Genesis too.

What do you think? What equipment might be required? It's an academic and theoretical question only.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 25, 2004 11:57 am
I think the idea is nuts actually. Think about it Ekke ... you want to launch a sub-orb vehicle to catch something crashing into the atmosphere from outer space? On it's first über-100 km flight a tiny little mishap put SS1 twenty miles off course ... it's easier to put a helicopter in the right place than try to coordinate the positions of two different things falling out of the sky (the positioning of one of which is completely beyond your local-area control).

Nuts. Screwy. Think of something else, then think about it again, then post.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 25, 2004 12:17 pm
Alright - I only were playing around with it. To catch Genesis from a helicopter seem not much less dangerous to me - the people selected to do the job have been stuntman for this reason as I read.

The theoretical idea wasn't to catch Genesis at the altitude of the share winds SS1 putting off curse but at a point above the altitude a helicopter can fly. The velocities of suborbital vehicles will be closer to the velocity of Genesis than the velocity of a helicopter.

What I don't know are the velocities Genesis had at different altitudes and the special equipment required to catch Genesis by a suborbital vehicle.

What about a ribbon many km long to catch Genesis? As Genesis goes down it would pull the ribbon off because of differences in velocity. But Genesis will be decelerated while going down - perhaps its velocity is reduced below the velocity of the suborbital vehicle. Then the ribbon will be pulled on again. If the suborbital vehicle can change to a gliding mode Genesis would be safe.

I have been thinking about it but I want to know if others have ideas to make it work. It's only academic

In doubt catching Genesis by helicopter is as dangerous as catching it by other vehicles.

What modifications and equipment are possible?



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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 27, 2004 8:05 am
What then, of a (mostly) orbital craft that could catch genesis in a slowly degrading LEO (minimal tangential velocity)? I'm not sure if this would be a horrible waste of fuel. It stands to reason, though, that this type of a recovery is much safer when an extremely delecate cargo is being captured, as was with genesis. Like Herr Augustin was saying, this is only playing around with an idea.

With the suborbital idea, I'm not sure that the ship would have the manoueverability to catch the falling payload given the time critical nature of the high-velocity approach of the payload.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 8:46 am
Stupid ideas both of them. But, hey, if you wanna play.

So you want a hideously expensive craft, whizzing around the world, to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to catch something screaming in from the deeps. Something that was designed to be captured because of severe expenditure constraints.

The helicopter's got hang time and a maneuverability that an orbital vehicle does not. You can put it in approximately the right position and just wait. It's also ... uhn ... cheaper ... which is WHY an external capture mechanism was required in the first place, there wasn't enough cash to include a descent mechanism suitable for the craft to make the landing solo.

You guys are hypothesizing that increasing complexity by several orders of magnitude is somehow a good thing. Thinking about stuf is good. Thinking twice is better.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:45 am
Hello, slycker,

I remember heaving read that Genesis should have been docked to the ISS. It has been a proposal for the future recently - so you are right with the orbital craft. This idea I would prefer if I would be playing around here.



The reasons for playing around are first the fact that real stuntmen had the job to catch Genesis from a helicopter, second that the velocity of a suborbital craft is closer to the velocity of Genesis than the velocity of a helicopter and third that the parachute of Genesis hasn't been deployed because of a construction error.



The maneuverability is a good point - perhaps suborbital vehicles would provide more use if some maneuverability would be added. Would be an interesting topic in another section of this board.

This as well as aspects like "cheaper", "hang time" and something else like this may be worth further developments.



Let's continue playing around.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 10:19 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
I remember heaving read that Genesis should have been docked to the ISS.

Memory, as a rule, sucks horribly for everyone nearly equally. Especially here on this forum. So some sort of link to what you claim to have read would be nice. Even if it was in german it could still be germane. Otherwise I'm assuming that when you write "docked" you actually mean "crashed into with catastrophic outcome".

Ekke wrote:
The reasons for playing around are first the fact that real stuntmen had the job to catch Genesis from a helicopter, second that the velocity of a suborbital craft is closer to the velocity of Genesis than the velocity of a helicopter and third that the parachute of Genesis hasn't been deployed because of a construction error.

What suborbital craft? How does it match its speed any better than the helicopter? The difference in velocities between the helicopter and a properly functioning genesis craft were going to be very small if the damn parachute worked. The stuntmen stunt was a desperate attempt to save costs that would have otherwise been spent on an alternative descent mechanism.

Ekke wrote:
The maneuverability is a good point - perhaps suborbital vehicles would provide more use if some maneuverability would be added. Would be an interesting topic in another section of this board.

i.e. take your uncomfortable dash of realism elsewhere. Oh hell, I forgot this was the cafe ... my mistake!

Ekke wrote:
Let's continue playing around.

Hey, we're having fun, why not?

DKH

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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 11:00 am
Yes - I choosed the Cafe for my initial post because I knew I only want to play around and didn't want to propose something in serious.

But I am looking for the link or the article, you asked me for. It will takes a few days to find it beacuse I urgently have to do other things privately first- so I left it away here for the first time.

If Genesis had been functioning properly it wouldn't stimulate me to play around as I do - your are completely right in that case. This playing around here is interesting only because of the malfunction. It's interesting to for altitudes at which the parachute wouldn't work.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:12 pm
Hey no sweat Ekke, I understand about first things first. I would like to read that article ... and I'll be a reasonably patient guy about. Er ... well, I can pretend to be reasonable. For a couple of days. Maybe.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 8:54 pm
DKH,
I too am looking forward to reading the original article about the ISS idea, regardless of the language it happens to be in. It seems that the deceleration necessitated by that type of a concept would add several layers of complexity and dramatically increase risk of a crash.

It is important, it seems, to fully realise that this discussion IS taking place within the cafe. If the parachute/helicopter approach would have worked as was theorized, this discussion would not even been happening. Because it did smash into the ground as the stunt pilots watched from their helicopter vantage points, however, free discussion of new ideas is very appropriate. When attempting to generate new ideas, vehement pessimism seems somewhat out-of-place. 'Realistic' criticism is important in the overall process, I agree, however, it is usually better to wait until the ideas are assembled and understood.

Yes, it is true that the ideas proposed here would not have fit within the original Genesis budget. What would happen, however, when a future mission containing sensitive cargo cannot afford a Genesis-style landing?

I'm not sure exactly what type of approach Herr Augustin had in mind, however the approach that I was advocating was having the incoming 'Genesis' enter orbit around the earth, and then be captured in orbit by the LEOrbital craft at a pre-calculated position. Here, the velocities of the two craft could be comparable. If, however, the incoming craft were to head radially in towards the earth ('screaming in from the deeps'), then we would have the velocity problem that you mention, and the 'hang-time' concept would be more relevant.

Herr Augustin,
I have another idea to throw out there. What if the incoming Genesis were to enter HEO, gradually decelerating by means of an ion drive. Yes, the ion drive provides very small amounts of acceleration - but it also has minimal mass. If time were not a factor (as it seemed it wasn't in the Genesis mission), this ion drive could slowly decelerate 'genesis' until it enters a lower orbit where the LEOrbital craft would be able to capture it.

Your ribbon idea is definitely interesting. I wonder if it could be also adopted in this orbital-approach/ion-drive idea. If deployed from the incoming craft, it would provide (very minimal) drag, but more importantly it could serve as a tether that the LEOrbital craft could safely snag. The one problem with this idea, as I see it, is the drag on the tether/ribbon would likely provide less deceleration than the ion drive, meaning that it wouldn't stay behind the craft. If the tether/ribbon were to be deployed much lower in orbit, closer to when it would be captured, perhaps it could still work.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 30, 2004 8:16 am
Hello, slycker,

your ion drive idea is not only a good idea too - it remainds me too to JP Aerospace's concept that is doubted by most people discussing it here. JP Aerospace plans to go to orbit by ion drive after that vehicle has been launched from 42 km altitude. The vehicle has low acceleration and your idea provides low deceleration - so the velocities can be approached very exactly to each other I suppose.

The manner by which you propose to use a ribbon or a tether is a good alternative too. I allways have in mind nanocarbontube-tethers or -ribbons because they can withstand very huge tenses.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 30, 2004 9:18 am
slycker wrote:
When attempting to generate new ideas, vehement pessimism seems somewhat out-of-place. 'Realistic' criticism is important in the overall process, I agree, however, it is usually better to wait until the ideas are assembled and understood.

All ideas put forth on a public forum are at risk of severe destruct testing. Fact of life slyck. They are at risk the moment that the text reaches the screens of people interested enough to test them. An idea that is good, or well-defended, will survive this process. If you want a hiatus period where your potentially stupid ideas go unmolested then restrict posting to a selection of your friends or favorite yes-men. Sounds harsh? Look at it from the perspective of the greater majority of this world's citizens, from their view you live in a society which over-protects you already. You expect stupid, ill-informed, ill-advised, half-assed, poorly thought out expostulations to be protected from written criticism on the internet? You must be mad. Or from another planet.

If people built rockets as you would have us construct ideas, then testing would only begin after all the component parts have been assembled. Single stupid things would destroy a lot of good things.

I bet you think NSFB is gonna fly in 2005 too.

slycker wrote:
Yes, it is true that the ideas proposed here would not have fit within the original Genesis budget. What would happen, however, when a future mission containing sensitive cargo cannot afford a Genesis-style landing?

Say what!? Are you asking what would happen if they couldn't afford to install a parachute and employ two rotor cowboys to catch it? Well my friend, what makes you think they could then afford some sort of sub-orbital or orbital capture mechanism as being proposed by my good friend Ekke? What would happen in that case is what did happen, woosh - smack. As far as cheap earth-return mechanisms go, they were at the bottom of the barrel already.

Ekke is a fantastic hypothesis generator. He's posting like mad (I don't think anyone else has posted here more) and constantly turning up the soil of invention and provoking us to think like the good farmer of ideas that he his. Although his posts are, from my impatient stance, frequently overlong they occasionally contain the odd gem or two. But that doesn't mean his ideas are to be protected from criticism.

He's defending himself well enough anyway, perhaps not so well here, but in a few other threads he's eventually made me think differently than I did at the start.

Hey, this is sorta fun. Pass me some more of that coffee.

DKH

P.S. I would [euphemism]explore[/euphemism] your ion drive idea with you too. But I think there are more concise minds on that subject and I'll keep my trap shut awhile just for the practise.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 01, 2004 1:17 pm
By random I detected an article reporting that scientists proposed the return-capsules of sample-return-missions to Mars should go to the ISS. The reason is to prevent Earth from contamination by martian microbes. The article doesn't refer to the Genesis crash-down but such a crash could cause contamination if contamination really is to supposed.

So the capsules would have to dock to ISS. An orbital spacecraft as you proposed, slycker, would be an alternative from my point of view.

I have to continue to look for the article but this one is similar. It is an article from 22nd of November this year at the website of the german section of the Mars Society titled "Nächste Schritte auf dem Weg in den Weltraum, zum Mond und Mars". To quote it in german: "...Ein weiterer Vorschlag für die Nutzung der ISS kam jetzt aus Kreisen der Wissenschaftler. Die in Europa und den USA jeweils geplanten Probenrückhol-Missionen (Sample Return) sollten doch ihre Kapseln mit Marsboden auf der ISS abliefern. Bisher waren Untersuchungen in einem Hochsicherheitslabor geplant. Dadurch soll eine eventuelle Freisetzung von gefährlichen Marsmikroben verhindert werden. Zwar ist es extrem unwahrscheinlich auf der Marsoberfläche für Menschen gefährliche Organismen zu finden, warum aber nicht jedes Risiko vermeiden und die Proben auf der ISS untersuchen?..."

I suppose that the reentry velocities of these return-capsules will be similar to the reentry velocity of Genesis - the capsules as well as Genesis will be coming from the interplanetary space and not from an orbit around the Earth.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 01, 2004 1:59 pm
I bet you anything that those boys talking about capsule retreival by the ISS are talking about capsules which have the built-in capacity to navigate to the ISS. Their reason for thinking about it is ... sensible in an extremely cautious fashion.

I bet they're not talking about hanging some sort of net out the window as it whizzes by.

DKH

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 01, 2004 2:14 pm
I agree - the other article I'm still looking for didn't say that Genesis should have been docked to the ISS as it was when it reentered and crashed into the ground. It said that Genesis should have been designed and equipped to got to the ISS - it said that implicitly only.

In principle a docking mechanism perhaps wasn't required - it would have been sufficient if Genesis entered an orbit at a point near to the ISS and the astronauts on board of the ISS could get Genesis by the Shuttle or by the Soyuz (by EVA Genesis would have been to near to the ISS I think).

Genesis is only the sampling portion of that vehicle for me - not the engine, the navigation system or anything else. I'm looking at it recognizing several components, modules and elements that all have different tasks. All these things are constructed by different firms often and put together later - perhaps it would have been no major problem to design it for going to the ISS. But this seems to be a topic for the Technology section of this board - doesn't it? Would that be an interesting topic?



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