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NASA Facts Fire 1 the Reentry Heating Spacecraft

NASA Facts Fire 1 the Reentry Heating Spacecraft

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Mar 23, 2011
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03/23/2011

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Page
1
NASA
FACTS
An
Educational
Services
Publication
of
the
National
Aeronautics
and
Space
Administration
Vol.
II,
No.
11
THE
REENTRY
FIRE
I
HEATING
N
65
-
21
92
9
&-dc.-l
SPACECRAFT
Oczt=-
~
/
~ ~
! ' = I I ! ! 
NASA's
FIRE I
Spacecraft
successfully
reentered
the
earth's
atmosphere an
April
14, 1964,
and
transmitted
much
valuable data
about the
extremely hotgas
cap
of
environmental
air
with
which
future
spacecraft
will
have
to contend
upo
n
returning to earth
from
space
missions.
A
second launching
Is
planned
.
A
spacecraft returning
to
earth
at
super
orb
i
tal
speedencountersthe samephenomenonas
natural
meteors.
Appearing
as a
fireball,thephenomenon
is
theresult
of
the
impact
of
the reentry
body
on
the
atmosphere
and
the
reaction
of
the
atmosphere
on
the reentry
body.
At
the
fringe
of
the
earth'satmosphere
the
air
molecules
are
very
far apart,
but
when
they
are disturbed
by
the passage
of
a
high
speed re
entrybody
themolecules pile
upand form
a
dense cloud
of
excited
atoms
that
envelop
the
body
and leave
a
brilliant
visible trail
behind.
T.hus,
the
spacecraft
has
cr
eated
a
very
unusual
environment,
wh
ich is
often referred to
as a
hot
gascap,wheretemperatures
are
many
times
higher
than
can
be
contained
in
almost any
of
earth's
furnaces.
The
environment
moves with
the spacecraft
at
high
speed
and
envelops
the
spacec
r
aft
as a
furnacewouldenvelop
a
labora
tory
model spacecraft.
FIRE
SPACECRAFT
DESIGN
PROBLEMS
The
first
pro.blemin
design
of
the
FIRE
spacecraft
was
tofind
a
way
toreproduce
the
typical reentry environment
of
spacecraft
re-
turning from
the moon
.
The
r
eentry
speed
would
be
about
37,000
feetper
second,
whichmeans
penetrating
7
miles
of
at
m
osphere
each
second
.The
angle
of
approac
h
would
be
a
shallow 15
degrees slope
below
horizontal.
The
altitude
where the
env
i
ronment
reaction
would
start
to
become noti
c
eable would
be
around
400,000
feet
which
is
about
75
miles
high.
The
second
problem
was
to
design
sensors
and measurement
systems
for
the
spacecraft
and
protect
them
from
thesevere
reentry
environment.
Temperatures
would
be
measured both
on-board
the
spacecraftand
in the
surrounding
hot
gas
cap.
Spectrograph
ic
measurements to
determine
the
species
of
excited atoms
of
air
in
the
gas
capwould
be
attemp
t
ed
.Environ
mental
air
pressure
would
be measured. An
tenna
power
losses
due
to
the
surrounding
hot
gas
sheath
would
be measured
.
Other
per
formance
sensors such as timer
sequences, orien
tation gyros
and
internal
pressures
and
tempera
tures
would
have
to
be
incorpora
t
ed
.
And
,
the
entire spacecraft
would
have
to
be designed around
the
sensors
andmeasuremen
t
systems
in
a
way
 
Page
2
,
to
insure
proper
performance and provide
ample
.'
protection.
The
third
problem
was
to find
a
way
to
g e ~
'
themeasured
data
away
from
the
spacecraft
and
back
to
the
earth
stations
along
the
test
range.
The
severe
reentry
environment would
prevent
direct
radio
transmission
of
the real time
data
because
of
the
black-out
effects
of
the
hot
gas
cap
.
Recovery
of
the
spacecraft and
stored
data
after
splash
impact
inthe
Atlantic
Oceanwould not
be
feasible
because
of
excessive
ad
ditional
costs.
Final
design
of
the
FIRE
I
spacecraft grewout
of
these
requirements
andfrom
the solution
of
these
problems.
Looking
down
at
the
Project
Fire
booster and payload
at
Cape
Kennedy.
The
heat
shield protects,
and here
conceals
from view,
the
payload
(velocity
package
and reentry
body)
.
The
shroud
will
be
jettisoned
in
flight,
after
the payload
hasrisen
safely above the
bulkof
the atmosphere.
NASA
FACTS Vol.
II,
No.
11
LAUNCH
VEHICLE
The
function
of
the
Fire
launch
vehicle
is
to
boost
the
spacecraft
into
a
high ballistic
coast
ing
trajectoryallowingplenty
of
room
above
the
earth
for
the
final
thrust
back
into
the
atmos
phere, reaching
the
high velocity
before
reentry
.
The
payload
does
notgo into
orbit
.
The
dis-
tance
fromlaunch
pointat
Cape
Kennedy
to
"splash
point"
in the
South
Atlantic
ocean
is
over
5,200
miles.
The
highest
alt
i
tude
is
520
miles
which
it
reaches
in a
little
less
than 16
minutes
after
launch.
The
flight
sequence
is
shown
in
the
illustration
"Trajectory
and
Flight
Sequence.
"The
launch vehicle
is
the
li
quid
fueledAtlas
0,
66
feet
tall,
with
a
thrust equ
i
va
l
ent tothe
power
of
more than
200 of
the most
power
ful
diesel
locomotives
.
SPACECRAFT (VELOCITY
PACKAGE)
The
spacecraft
starts
out
as
a
two-ton
pay
load
which
consists
of
two
major
parts-a
veloc
ity
package(illustrated
as
it
appears
i
nside
the
two-piece heat
shroud),
and
a
reentry
package.
The
payload
includes
the
velocity
package
and
t
he
reentry
package,
shawn
here
as enclosed
in
the
heat
s
hroud
.
CLAMSHELLHEATS
HR
O
UD
(JETTISONEDAFTER ATLASCUTOFF)
,
~ ~ i 1 t 
\/
VE
LOC
I
TY
P
ACK
AGE SHELLVELOCITYPA
CKAGE
ADAPTER(
ME
CHANIC
ALL
YS
ECURE
S
ATLAS
TO
y.p.
UN
TIL
ATLA
SIS JETTI
SO
NED)
I
'I
Ii
II
I
I
I
I
I
I
II
I
J
I
1
I
II
II
II
I
I
 
NASA
FACTS
Vol.
II,
No.
11
The
velocity
package
contains
a
large
solid
fuel
rocket,
the
Antares,
and
a
highly
sophisti
cated
guidanceandcontrol
system
used
for
stabilizing and
aiming
the
spacecraft
for
the
final
thrust
back
into
the
atmosphere.
The
reentry
package
contains
a
complex
arrangement
of
experimental
instruments, batteries,
and
telemetry
transmitters.
FLIGHT SEQUENCE
The
function
of
the
Atlas
launch vehicle
is
to
boost
the
spacecraft
and
guide
itinto
the
correct coasting ballistic
trajectory
where
the
Antares rocketcanaccelerate the reentrypack
age
to maximum
velocity before
starting
the
reentry
experiment.
The
reentry
package
must
reach
a
velocity
of37,000
feet
per
second
(about
25,000
MPH)
by
the time it
descends to
400,000
feet
altitude
where
it
must
beheaded
15
°
below
horizontal.
The
"flight
sequence"
is
portrayed
inthe
accompanying
diagram
startingwith
lift-off
(1)
and
boosterengine
separation
(2).
About
six
minutes
after
lift-off,
theAtlassustainer
engine
shuts
off
(3),and
the
two-piece
shroud
that
protects the
reentrypackage
from
atmospheric
friction drops
away
(4),
followed
Page
3
by
verniercut-off (5)
andspacecraft separation
(6).
For
the
next
20
minutes
the
spacecraft
coasts,
while
the
inertial guidance
system
of
the
velocitypackageand
a
set
of
gas
jets
keep
it
aimed
(7)
inthe
proper
position
for
reentry.
About 26
minutes
after
launch,
the
space
craft,
still
holding
the
proper
attitude,
goes
through
its
final maneuvers.
The
entire
space
craft
is
spun-up (8)
to
stabilize
the
reentry
pack
ageat
180
RPM.
Next,
the
velocity package
separates
(9)
and
the
Antares rocket ignites
(10)
and
carries
the reentry
packagethroughburnout(11)
andseparation (12).
To
do
this,the
Antares
rocket
consumes its
2,550
pounds
of
solid
fuel
in
about
33
seconds,
increasing
thevelocity
of
the
space
craft by
17,000
feet per
second.Finally,
the
reentry
package
separates
itself
from
the Antares
rocketwhich
is
slowed
down
by
tumble
rockets
(13)
so
as
not
to
collide
with
the
reentry package
during
the
experimental
period.
The
reentry
package quickly
encounters
enough atmosphere
to
heat
up.
The
heatingrate
is
very high, reaching
a
peak
a
few
seconds
before
maximum
dynamic
air
pressure
brakes
the
speed
at
a
maximum decelerat
i
on
load
of
about
78
g's.
The
"heat
pulse"
lasts
forabout
one
Trajectory
ond
flight
sequence.
@SPIN-
UP
1574sec/4601mi.
~
,
t l P ' 
rrJ-A::.
;
~ ~
~
~
®
SPACECRAFT
SEPARATION
308
.
3sec/486mi.
Q)ORIENTATION
319
.
3sec/535mi
.
~
SUSTAINERENGINECUTOFF
4
SHROUD
SEPARATION
5
VERNI
ER
CUTOFF
®
VELOCITY
PACKAGE
SHELL JETTISON
1577sec/4613mi.
@X259
MOTOR
IGNITION
1580
.
2sec/4624mi
.
@T
HRUST
=ZEROAT
1640
.
2sec/4958mi
.
X259
BURNOUT
All.
452,458
ft.
®
REENTRY
PACKAGE
~ -
..
.
SEPARATION
Vel.
25,426mph
~
~
ce:;rn
NOTE
CONDITIONS
REQUIRED
FOR
FIRE
1
NASAEXPERIMENTS
(@TUMBLE
ROCKET
IGNITION
1646
.
2sec/4995mi
.'
,\
"
(D
BOOSTERENGINECUTOFF
LIFTOFF
ALTITUDE
400,OOOFT
VELOCITY
25,227
mph
REENTRY
ANGLE
·
15(REF
HORIZONTAL)
\\
'
~
®"SPLASH"
1972sec/5234
mi
.
,
~

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