Patent application title: COMMERCIAL EXTERNAL RE-ENTRY TESTING FROM ORBIT
George E. Mueller (Kirkland, WA, US)
Gary Lai (Seattle, WA, US)
Thomas C. Taylor (Las Cruce, NM, US)
Kistler Aerospace Corporation
IPC8 Class: AB64G100FI
Class name: Spacecraft reusable or returnable with reentry shield
Publication date: 2009-02-26
Patent application number: 20090050745
Patent application title: COMMERCIAL EXTERNAL RE-ENTRY TESTING FROM ORBIT
George E. Mueller
Thomas C. Taylor
DAVIS WRIGHT TREMAINE, LLP/Seattle
Kistler Aerospace Corporation
Origin: SEATTLE, WA US
IPC8 Class: AB64G100FI
An experiment system with six different re-entry experiment locations for
testing high temperature re-entry materials, creating new thermal
protection systems, proving innovative new concepts for spacecraft
exterior surfaces and the incremental development of next generation
aerospace materials. A commercial transportation system to and from orbit
provides a 24-hour return cycle for the experiments on a surface actually
re-entering the earth's atmosphere. Previously expensive arc jet wind
tunnels attempted to simulate the re-entry temperatures and ever changing
re-entry flow environment for researchers. Now using existing doors,
hatches and other points on the reusable launch vehicle's exterior, the
actual re-entry environment is experienced by test specimens with quick
turn around for a wide variety of different re-entry temperatures ranges
for broad testing and development purposes. The reusable launch vehicle
launches, remains in orbit for 24 hours and returns to provide an actual
test environment for the exterior experiment system.
1. A system for introducing payloads into earth orbit, comprising:a
reusable orbital vehicle capable of being placed in earth orbit, the
orbital vehicle having an outer skin;a thermal protection system attached
to the outer skin of the orbital vehicle to thereby form an outermost
layer of the orbital vehicle, the thermal protection system being formed
by materials capable of withstanding environmental temperatures
associated with re-entry of the orbital vehicle to thereby maintain
operational viability of the orbital vehicle during re-entry;an internal
payload coupled to an interior portion of the orbital vehicle; anda first
external payload package affixed to the orbital vehicle at a first
attachment position on the outermost layer of the orbital vehicle wherein
the first external payload package is exposed to the external atmosphere
during launch and re-entry phases of a space mission and is further
exposed to the environment of space while in orbit.
2. The system of claim 1, further comprising a second external payload package affixed to the orbital vehicle at a second position on the outermost layer of the orbital vehicle wherein the second external payload package is exposed to the external atmosphere during launch and re-entry phases of the space mission and is further exposed to the environment of space while in orbit.
3. The system of claim 2 wherein the first and second external payload packages have uniform predetermined dimensions, the first and second attachment positions being configured to receive and retain the first and second external payload packages at the first and second attachment positions.
4. The system of claim 1, further a carrier plate assembly positioned at the first attachment position to receive and retain the first external payload package.
5. The system of claim 1, further comprising an access panel on the orbital vehicle wherein first attachment position is located on the access panel.
6. The system of claim 5 wherein the access panel on the reusable orbital vehicle is removable from the orbital vehicle.
7. The system of claim 1, further comprising a carrier plate configured for attachment at the first attachment position and further configured for attachment to the first external payload package wherein the carrier plate is intermediate the outer skin surface of the orbital vehicle and the first package.
8. The system of claim 1, further comprising an initial stage coupled to the orbital vehicle to boost the orbital vehicle from a position on earth to a predetermined altitude.
9. The system of claim 1 wherein the orbital vehicle has an elongated shape with first and second ends with a rocket engine positioned proximate the second end of the orbital vehicle, the first attachment position being on the outermost layer of the orbital vehicle substantially at the first end.
10. The system of claim 1 wherein the orbital vehicle has an elongated shape with first and second ends with a rocket engine positioned proximate the second end of the orbital vehicle, the first attachment position being on the outermost layer of the orbital vehicle forward of a midpoint between the first end and the second end.
11. The system of claim 1 wherein the orbital vehicle has an elongated shape with first and second ends with a rocket engine positioned proximate the second end of the orbital vehicle, the first attachment position being on the outermost layer of the orbital vehicle rearward of a midpoint between the first end and the second end.
12. The system of claim 1 wherein the orbital vehicle has an elongated shape with first and second ends with a rocket engine positioned proximate the second end of the orbital vehicle, the system further comprising an aft skirt proximate the second end wherein the first attachment position is on an exterior skin portion of the aft skirt.
13. The system of claim 1 wherein the orbital vehicle has an elongated shape with first and second ends with a rocket engine positioned proximate the second end of the orbital vehicle, the system further comprising an aft skirt proximate the second end and a protected attachment position on an interior portion of the aft skirt.
14. The system of claim 1 wherein the orbital vehicle has an elongated shape with first and second ends with a rocket engine positioned proximate the second end of the orbital vehicle, the system further comprising an aft skirt proximate the second end and an attachment member mounted to an interior portion of the aft skirt.
15. The system of claim 1, further comprising a sensor associated with the first experimental package, the sensor generating sensor data.
16. The system of claim 15, further comprising a data storage unit electrically coupled to the orbital vehicle and electrically coupled to the sensor, the data storage unit receiving and storing the generated sensor data.
17. The system of claim 16 for use with an avionics data bus on the orbital vehicle to monitor operation of the orbital vehicle, the data storage unit being coupled to the avionics data bus on the orbital vehicle to store data related to the operation of the orbital vehicle in association with the generated sensor data.
18. The system of claim 15 wherein the first external payload package comprises a thermal protection system.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/698,261, filed Oct. 31, 2003, which utility patent application claimed the benefit of the filing of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/424,159, entitled "External Secondary Payloads," filed on Nov. 5, 2002. The specification thereof is incorporated herein by reference.
This utility patent application also claims the benefit of the filing of U.S. Disclosure Document No. 521688, entitled "Commercial External Re-entry Testing from Orbit (IDF039) and Secondary Internal payloads (IDF063)," filed on Nov. 15, 2002 and the specification thereof is incorporated herein by reference.
NO GOVERNMENT RIGHTS
No government funding, no government support or government contract or clause is related to this invention.
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyrights whatsoever.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention (Technical Field)
The present invention relates to transporting external test experiments to and from orbit on the exterior of a reusable launch vehicle.
The present invention includes the sale of external vehicle experiments, integration, transport to orbit, exposure in orbit, exposure to the external re-entry environment from orbit including instrumentation and testing apparatus and the return of various support hardware and experiment sample services used on reusable space transportation vehicles. One example of a fully reusable launch vehicle is the Kistler Aerospace Reusable Launch vehicle called the K-1. More particularly, the present invention relates generally to the access to space ascent and re-entry environments plus hardware innovation and testing locations with supporting repeatable transportation cycles or missions, the transfer and attachment of payloads to a variety of space transportation vehicles for the research, testing and the exposure of experiments in orbital re-entry environments including the return of experiment samples to earth for analysis and profit. The present invention hardware is capable of providing more than just the transportation service to orbit like all other expendable launch vehicles. The experiments, when carried to orbit and during re-entry from orbit, provide the services such as power, data recording, sensors, communications and different structural attachments using the existing Development Flight Instrumentation (DFI) System.
2. Background Art
Note that the following discussion refers to a number of publications by author(s) and year of publication, and that due to recent publication dates certain publications are not to be considered as prior art when compared to the present invention. Discussion of such publications herein is given for more complete background and is not to be construed as an admission that such publications are prior art for patentability determination purposes.
The transportation of cargo to space is expensive. Most launch vehicles are expended on each mission, which means the re-entry portion is not performed. A reusable launch vehicle can offer exterior experiment locations in both direction of travel. The design and development of fully reusable vehicles is an attempt to reduce the expense of space launch operations. The "reusable" aspect requires the space launch vehicle hardware to be reused. This could mean the same experiment location with the same heating could be used to test a different material on each mission and determine which material is best by testing in the exact same repeatable environment. The exterior secondary payload hardware opens new areas of testing not normally available. Transporting the exterior secondary payload hardware to and from orbit in an affordable manner is a goal consistent with developing the materials required for lower life cycle costs and efficient materials. The problem is still the cost of mass to orbit. Much of the transportation to orbit operations can be addressed by the emerging reusable launch vehicles (RLVs).
Reusable launch vehicle exterior secondary payload hardware research and development has proposed various additional aerospace structures and opened a new area of testing for RLV technology development and commercial secondary payload hardware accommodation. Secondary payload hardware structures are a refined technology within the aerospace community. Unmanned activities in space are less expensive than manned activities. The Kistler Aerospace secondary payload hardware can provide a distributed communications system allowing individual researchers a communications access to their experiments and payloads in orbit. The unmanned aerospace reusable launch vehicle (RLV) can provide the secondary payload hardware technologies with the ability to expand this testing process.
The traditional approach to manifesting of space launch systems has been hardware intensive, safety driven and long duration scheduling activities. The emerging commercial technologies point another way and attempt to be sensitive to commercial customer's launch on demand requirements.
Many previous space launch patents in prior art talk about reusable features, but none talk about external payloads designed to permit the testing of the materials required. The return to earth of internal payloads seems to be the focus of most efforts. The heating on the surfaces of the reusable launch vehicle are significant and require testing to develop a reliable reusable material and the testing environments for development. It requires several wind and arc jet wind tunnels to simulate on the earth surface part of the re-entry environment experienced in an actual orbital re-entry.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,884,770 to Martin, 5 Dec. 89 describes an earth to orbit turbojet vehicle, but no mention of testing external surfaces on the exterior. U.S. Pat. No. 4,796,839 to Davis, 10 Jan. 89 describes an earth to orbit vehicle with recovery aspects, but no mention of testing external surfaces on the exterior. U.S. Pat. No. 4,265,416 to Jackson of NASA, 5 May 81 describes an earth to orbit reusable vehicles, but no mention of testing external surfaces on the exterior. U.S. Pat. No. 5,568,901 to Stiennon, 29 Oct. 96 describes a two stage earth to orbit reusable vehicle, but no mention of testing external surfaces on the exterior surfaces. Even U.S. Pat. No. 4,802,639 to Hardy, 5 Dec. 89 describes an earth to orbit turbojet vehicle, but no mention of testing external surfaces on the exterior.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,133,517 to Ware 28 Jul. 92 uses an access door on the external tank, but fails to associate it to any exterior tests designed to provide samples for TPS analysis in the patent.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,650,139 to Taylor, Mar. 17, 1987 attempts to alter the TPS on a partly reusable space launch vehicle, but enhance the aerodynamic flow by changing the re-attach point and injecting fluids into the slip stream, but no mention of returning sample for analysis or removing samples from the vehicle after re-entry. U.S. Pat. No. 4,790,499 to Taylor, Dec. 13, 1988 expands the original patent, but fails to return any external samples.
The exterior sample return from the external tank (ET) has been studied by NASA and their manufacturers in the 1980's, but the sample return from the ET requires removal of the samples from the ET after it has been taken to orbit. This involves altering the space shuttle mission trajectory, the salvage of the ET in orbit, the suited astronaut removal of the TPS samples from the ET, the re-stowing of the samples aboard a reusable segment of the vehicle and the proper disposal of the ET, which involves significant additional effort and expense.
Project Re-Entry II: Returning samples from Earth orbit at www.gvsp.usra.edu steps around the issue, but discusses low-cost sample return missions and has held two workshops, but doesn't mention using the return capsule and a test article for future mission for exterior materials or future samples for development by analysis of re-entry materials. The Ariane vehicle by the European Space Agency creates an Ariane Re-entry Demonstrator (ARD) testbed to re-enter from earth orbit, but is separate hardware and appears to have no exterior re-entry samples in the literature or pictures. Again it is the microgravity that is the focus of ARD rather than the phased testing approach with incremental development advances in materials technology based on systematic analysis of re-entry sample materials from actual re-entry missions.
Even the Orbital Science Corporation Pegasus alludes to leading edge research into thermal protection systems on www.orbital.com and some of their technical papers and literature details missions for space planes, but all seem to cost an entire mission instead of the full instrumentation tests with sample back for analysis in an incremental development manner. Prior art uncovered to date is not directly germane to the present invention.
The space station attempts to address the exposure of experiments to the space environment, see Brian Berger's article, "NASA Aims to Finish Express Pallet As Costs Stiffe Brazil's Plans," SPACENEWS Aug. 26, 2002, 1p, Springfield, Va., USA. The Express Pallet does not address either cycle through the atmosphere, however. Astrocourier (USA) addresses a similar commercial market, but also does not offer either cycle through the atmosphere, however.
In contrast, the present invention uses the emerging technologies to create hardware and procedures of a commercial nature. These secondary payload hardware systems and environments that start the process of lowering the cost of space activities by creating a commercial system using space for commercial gain and supported by affordable transportation.
Accordingly, several objects and advantages are the cost effective, reliable, efficient, and safe hardware systems using integrated technologies containing subsystems common with the reduced cost hardware solutions.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In accordance with the exterior secondary payload hardware invention providing support for the exterior experiments and other experiment accommodation hardware and eventually integrating/delivering/servicing experiment payloads to low earth in a cost effective manner and return through the re-entry environment. The hardware of the invention is a reusable launch vehicle supporting a series of exterior secondary payloads using hardware solutions to create a commercial service enterprise providing access to the ascent and re-entry environments for customers.
A primary object of the accommodation of external secondary payload hardware on the launch vehicles using various methods is to provide a commercial service to the customer.
A primary advantage of the present invention is to reduce costs. This advantage includes the cost effective combination of a reusable launch vehicle, with both the ascent and re-entry environment, an affordable subsystem hardware concept for the commercial attachment of external experiments, the processing of the experiments within the integration or refurbishment between flights, the use of the reusable launch vehicle's avionics, power, communications and other capabilities and other technologies to reduce the costs for testing.
The advantage of the exterior secondary payload hardware on a reusable launch vehicle is an opportunity for commonality with existing subsystems already used on the launch vehicle and/or secondary payload hardware providing cost effective common subsystems through commonality in design, procurement, testing and secondary payload hardware attachment.
Another advantage of the invention includes the full ascent exposure, 22 hours of the space environment in orbit and the re-entry environment to full landing.
Another advantage of the invention is the common ground handling techniques, launch on demand manifesting technical maintenance, financing and ownership of the exterior secondary payload hardware, launch vehicle, and payloads.
Another advantage of the secondary payload hardware is an integrated design, flexible enough to be capable of accommodating, on an RLV, a number of different payloads from numerous organizations with varying requirements, different weights, different processing requirements, and varying financial needs.
Another advantage of the invention is the K-1 orbiter or other reusable launch vehicle, which provides its vehicle capabilities as a testbed for the full cycle to and from orbit and ground services supporting the exterior secondary payload hardware payloads in orbit.
Another advantage of the invention includes the various exterior payloads with different shapes that can be attached to the exterior surface using adaptable structural interfaces.
Another advantage of the invention includes the exterior secondary payload hardware placed in different locations on the host launch vehicle with the flexibility, common subsystems, multiple attachment locations and launch on demand capabilities of the exterior secondary payload hardware and RLV combination.
Another advantage of the invention includes the exterior secondary payload hardware is placed as different sizes in both high and low heating areas on the host launch vehicle. This second stage of the RLV is cost effective, because it combines the advantages of a reusable launch vehicle including the ability to examine the materials used that is not available with expendable vehicles.
Another advantage of the invention includes the stowage of an experiment in the aft flare volume of the launch vehicle out of the slip stream and the ability to introduce this arm tip into the slip stream during the re-entry phase of the re-entry trajectory.
In a nominal mission, the exterior secondary payload hardware is mated with the customer's experiment. The launch vehicle powers the payload on the full transportation cycle.
Other objects, advantages and novel features, and further scope of applicability of the present invention will be set forth in part in the detailed description to follow, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.
Externally Mounted Experiment Accommodations:
The reusable launch vehicle can place experiments on the outside of the vehicle to demonstrate the operation of thermal protection systems and other exterior technologies in an actual launch, orbital, and reentry environment. Only the space shuttle has something in the similar full transportation range of complete ascent and re-entry cycles on the same vehicle. The space shuttle does not have the provisions for exterior test locations or the support hardware to support the testing or the provisions for supporting the experiments with power, communications and other services during the experiment phase. A reusable launch vehicle can offer exterior experiment locations in both directions, if the accommodations are developed.
The Kistler K-1 reusable launch vehicle (RLV) is one example of such a reusable launch vehicle. Exterior experiments are mounted in Kistler supplied hardware of various sizes for use in various locations. The Kistler-supplied Experiment Containment hardware can also be used for government and commercial experiments. Experiments can be placed at locations on the OV nose, OV Mid-Body, and OV Aft Flare within regions of two different types of existing TPS on the Kistler vehicle. The repeatable experiments are designed to provide a standard mechanical and electrical interface for a wide variety of experiments. The experiments on the K-1 are located in areas where additional thermal protection system (TPS) material is located to protect the K-1 from damage if an experiment breaks or fails.
An Experiment Management Unit (EMU) provides each experiment with power, data recording for analog sensors, digital data recording, if required, the example through an RS-422 interface, TTL-compatible digital discrete, and access to the K-1 1553B avionics databus in shadow mode.
Well in advance of launch, Kistler K-1 staff delivers each experimenter an Interface Kit containing the requisite number of experiment size and thickness details, fasteners, electrical connectors, and an EMU simulator to verify the electrical interfaces. The box contains a standard attachment method to mount experiments. Prior to launch, the experimenters deliver their experiments mounted on furnished hardware to Kistler; who in turn, installs the hardware onto the K-1 vehicle. Multiple experiments from different customers may be placed on the same vehicle, or experiments may be separated into different locations, depending on compatibility, temperature or due to other issues. After the flight, Kistler returns the experiments and data to the experimenters, and delivers a Post-Flight Report documenting flight parameters.
If required, processing areas, office space, and storage areas at the launch site for the experimenter are available to support pre-launch checkout and testing.
Kistler's approach to externally mounted experiments is to replace existing K-1 hardware (access panels, doors, tile, or blanket parts) with technology experiments on fail-safe test panels. Panels will be designed with backup insulation and structure to maintain thermal integrity in the event of an experiment failure. Data recording will be made available through the existing developmental flight instrumentation (DFI) on the K-1 vehicle.
OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES
The development of thermal protection systems for space launch vehicles requires a phased testing and development process of trial and error on various systems and materials that are tested and documented afterward. An expendable launch vehicle limits the analysis afterward, because the hardware and the exterior samples including the entire stage or vehicle are discarded in the launch process.
The K-1 is a reusable launch vehicle and offers the advantage of exposing the external experiments to the entire transportation cycle envelope and the opportunity to examine the experiment samples afterward. To obtain similar conditions from Mach zero to Mach 25, atmospheric pressures from 14.7 psi to zero and the thermal environments involved; required previous researchers and manufacturers to use a series of different wind tunnel and arc jet tunnels to attempt to duplicate the ascent, orbital and re-entry environments. This was time consuming, expensive, labor intensive and less effective than the present invention.
Ordinary expendable launch and re-entry vehicles have a variety of different environments on the exterior of the vehicle, but it generally requires two vehicles, one for launch and one for re-entry to provide the full testing environment. The reusable launch vehicle can provide the same environment on one reusable vehicle and repeat the identical experiment in both directions again on the next mission using a new test experiment.
The example K-1 vehicle can accommodate three basically different environment locations with different types of experiments in both directions of travel on the same vehicle. This is the subject of this patent application. Externally mounted experiments would be mounted on fail-safe test panels and would include advanced materials and TPS experiments. Internally mounted experiment support hardware to support the exterior experiment is accommodated inside the reusable launch vehicle in a variety of locations on the vehicle. The third type of experiment is the replacement of an existing K-1 subsystem or component with one using advanced technology.
External Mounting Locations:
Six external mounting footprints are possible on the K-1 OV. These locations are along the exterior from the nose to the aft skirt. Kistler will install backup insulation in the form of bordering blankets and an ablator bonded to the K-1 structure to maintain thermal integrity of the host vehicle.
For the high heat are tile experiments mounted in Footprint #1 and #5, (see FIG. 1) the experimenter will either bond their tile onto a carrier plate (which Kistler will then mechanically fasten to the K-1), or Kistler will bond the experiment directly to the K-1 structure.
The footprint of each experiment depends on the mounting location and the specific reusable launch vehicle. The height of each experiment is generally limited to the TPS Outer Mold Line (OML), approximately 2.0 inches.
The example Kistler RLV has certain limitations like no experiments at Footprint #1 can exceed the local TPS thickness. The experiment thickness can possibly exceed the OML by more than 2 inches at Footprints #2-#6 (see FIG. 1) and may be allowed, but will require additional aerodynamic analysis and verification. Kistler can provide data recording to sensors mounted on or around the experiment, such as thermocouples and strain gauges, using its existing DFI system and passing insulated wire through the vehicle structure, ablator, and carrier plate.
External Experiment Envelopes:
RLV's envelopes will vary depending on the vehicle. The K-1 example footprints available for experiments are as follows:
1 Nosecap Tile Substitution 9.00×9.00 9.16×9.16 in Tile TPS.
2 Payload Module Carrier Plate 7.50×4.25 10.50×7.25
3 Payload Module Carrier Plate 7.50×4.25 10.50×7.25
4 Mid Body Carrier Plate 24.00×24.00 27.00×27.00
5 Aft Flare Tile Substitution 9.00×9.00 9.16×9.16 in Tile TPS.
6 Aft Flare Carrier Plate 6.00×14.00 9.00×17.00
All mounting footprints are limited by the size of existing access panels and doors in that portion of the example K-1 structure.
External Experiment Environments:
Material experiments will be exposed to the ambient air at Kistler's launch site in Woomera, South Australia.
Heat loads during reentry drive the design of materials and TPS experiments externally mounted to the orbital vehicle OV vary with the specific vehicle used. The example K-1 vehicle has specific predicted heat environment at each identified mounting location on K-1 Orbital Vehicle locations.
Acoustic loads during reentry drive the design of materials and TPS experiments externally mounted to the orbital vehicle OV vary with the specific vehicle used. The example K-1 maximum predicted noise is 148 to 160 overall sound pressure level (in dB) at each external mounting location depending on the location, including the phase of flight the maximum environment occurs. If Kistler and the experimenter determine acoustic testing is required, Kistler will provide sound pressure spectrums for verification testing.
Design Limit Load Factors:
An example K-1 design limit load factor of 35 g encompasses both predicted static and dynamic loads for externally mounted TPS experiments. This load factor applies to each axis (one at a time).
Subsystem Replacement Experiments:
Reusable launch vehicles can substitute a test subsystem for an existing subsystem on the vehicle. An expendable launch vehicle can also substitute a test subsystem for an existing working subsystem, but the test subsystem never comes back for testing and evaluation. Each type of vehicle could also substitute a test subsystem and have a back up working subsystem to take over, if the test subsystem fails. The expendable vehicle would return only one half of the trips test data and no test system for testing and evaluation on the ground. The reusable launch vehicle can provide the full trip cycle of test data. The final category of experiment open to experimenters is replacement of an existing K-1 subsystem with one utilizing advanced technology. As an example of this options is the Space Launch Initiative (SLI) experiments on the K-1 vehicle. Existing interfaces will be maintained between the experiment and the vehicle. Examples of this type of experiment on the example K-1 vehicle include:
Replacement of a K-1 TPS material and joint details with another;
Replacement of one or more of the K-1's main engines with upgraded engine(s) utilizing advanced materials, mechanical subsystems, and IVHM;
Replacement of one of the K-1's batteries with higher energy density storage devices;
Replacement of one of the K-1's structural elements, such as propellant tanks, with elements utilizing advanced materials.
K-1 Development Flight Instrumentation (DFI) System
Data recording for an example K-1 vehicle is available to all categories of Space Launch Initiative (SLI) experiments (externally mounted, internally mounted, and subsystem replacement) through the K-1's existing DFI system. The DFI system was designed to provide a modular, tailorable system for measurement of data required for final verification of the K-1 RLV. Approximately 270 parameters will be measured using the system on the first four K-1 flights. Data measurement instruments in the basic DFI system include thermocouples, strain gauges, accelerometers, pressure transducers, temperature gas probes, Resistance Temperature Devices (RTDs), and microphones.
The example Kistler K-1 can leave all or part of the Development Flight Instrumentation (DFI) system in the K-1 vehicle to support NASA and other customer Add-on Technology Experiment flights, and can reconfigure and expand the DFI system over 50% to meet mission needs. The Kistler K-1 baseline DFI system is a distributed data acquisition system with data nodes located in all launch assist platform (LAP) and orbiter vehicle (OV) compartments. There are four OV nodes. Each node is capable of supporting up to 31 channels of analog/digital signal processing. The number of measurements that a channel can handle is dependent upon the type of signal being processed. For example:
A thermocouple channel (card) can process 8 thermocouples
An accelerometer channel (card) can process 2 accelerometers
A bridge circuit channel (card) can process 4 bridge circuits Each node is capable of streaming 10 Mbps. The baseline DFI system does not send DFI data to the ground. Real time data is collected and recorded in a solid-state recorder [one each on the launch assist platform (LAP) and orbiter vehicle (OV) stages]. Each recorder is capable of recording four 10 Mbps.
Experiment Integration Facilities:
Integration facilities required by experiment support crews vary on a case-by-case basis on other reusable launch vehicles. As a baseline approach, the example Kistler K-1 will set aside space in its vehicle processing facility (VPF) for use by the experiment's support crew as required. Kistler's K-1 example approach to SLI experiments is to integrate them as part of the normal maintenance and refurbishment process of the K-1 stages.
Therefore, placing the experimenter's support facilities in the Vehicle Processing Facility (VPF) will facilitate experiment integration into the K-1, which is refurbished and maintained in the same room. If required, Kistler can segregate the experimenter's area within the VPF, or provide a separate facility outside the VPF for use by experimenters. If clean facilities are required, Kistler can also provide the experiment support crew with a payload station in its PPF. The availability of the payload station is subject to coordination with Kistler's payload customers. The Payload Processing Facility (PPF) is designed to support satellite processing, test, and integration. The PPF includes two highbay payload processing work areas, two processing control rooms, a highbay payload module processing and hazardous operations area, a master airlock, a support equipment storage area, and the necessary office and personnel facilities. The Kistler Mission Control Center is also located in the PPF. Processing areas in the PPF are Class 100,000 clean facilities. Ultimately, experiments in the clean facility must be moved into the VPF for integration into the K-1.
Other objects, advantages and novel features, and further scope of applicability will be set forth in part in the detailed description to follow including drawings taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings FIG. 1 through FIG. 7, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the new testing opportunities process instrumentation and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated into and form a part of the specification, illustrate several embodiments of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. The drawings are only for the purpose of illustrating a preferred embodiment of the invention and are not to be construed as limiting the invention. In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is the exterior secondary payload hardware locations possible on the RLV;
FIG. 2 is the RLV with standard exterior secondary payload hardware system;
FIG. 3 is the standard exterior secondary payload hardware attachment;
FIG. 4 is the aft skirt launch vehicle location for the exterior secondary payload hardware deployed into the re-entry environment;
FIG. 5 is the secondary aft skirt payload hardware in the retracted condition;
FIG. 6 is the secondary aft skirt payload hardware in the deployed condition; and
FIG. 7 is the exterior secondary payload environment seen on the re-entry of the RLV.
REFERENCE NUMERALS IN DRAWINGS
20 reusable orbital vehicle 22 nose 24 aft flare skirt 26 exterior nose experiment number 1 footprint 28 launch vehicle engine 30 exterior experiment number 2 footprint 32 exterior experiment number 3 footprint 34 exterior experiment number 4 footprint 36 exterior experiment number 5 footprint 38 exterior experiment number 6 footprint 40 thermal protection system 42 customer's TPS experiment 44 ablator bonded to structure 46 carrier plate 47 border blanket with through holes 48 bolt hole 50 instrumentation wire pass-thru hole 52 base unit 54 deployment arm 56 leading edge TPS experiment 58 launch assist platform (LAP) 60 pre-entry phase 62 entry phase 64 bank reversal phase 66 terminal phase 68 chute phase 70 initiate bank reversal 72 bank reversal ends 74 stabilization chute deployed 76 drogue chute deployed 78 main chute deployed 80 landing 81 experiment recovery 82 re-entry OV trajectory 84 stage separation 86 LAP re-entry phase 88 ascent OV trajectory 89 entry interface 90 0.1 gravity encountered 92 ground level after landing
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS (BEST MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION)
The exterior secondary payload hardware relates to introducing a full service all in one testing environment, which can only be simulated on the Earth with a series of wind and arc jet tunnels to an existing customer base. The new interfaces and support structure technologies, reusable launch vehicle (RLV) technology and its use in the space environment of orbit offers a new avenue of testing that makes many expensive alternatives nearly obsolete. The present invention provides a more cost-effective integration, ascent transportation to orbit, 22 hour exposure in orbit and return through the re-entry environment. The customer system is capable of placing test samples and experiments into orbits beyond the capability of sounding rockets, sub-orbital air launch systems, arc jet/wind tunnels and other current development methods.
Reference is now made to FIG. 1, which illustrates a preferred embodiment of the invention. FIG. 1 is a side view of exterior secondary payload hardware locations offering the full range of re-entry heating environments on reusable orbital vehicle 20, including nose 22 location in a high heat area with surrounding thermal protection system tile to a less severe locations including one low heat aft skirt 24 location. Exterior nose experiment number 1 footprint 26 is forward on launch vehicle engine 28. Exterior experiment number 2 footprint 30 and exterior experiment number 3 footprint 32 are approximately 12 feet aft of the nose and use carrier plate 46 footprint experiment hardware. Exterior experiment number 4 footprint 34 is at midbody region of reusable orbital vehicle 20 and use carrier plate 46 footprint experiment hardware. Exterior experiment number 5 footprint 36 is on aft skirt 24 location and includes a tile substitution experiment location. Exterior experiment number 6 footprint 38 uses carrier plate 46 footprint experiment hardware and is on aft flare skirt 24 location.
FIG. 2 depicts customer's TPS experiment 42 in thermal protection system 40 on reusable orbital vehicle 20 with an example as carrier plate 46 experiment. Customer's TPS experiment 42 is ablator bonded to structure 44 below carrier plate 46. Customer's TPS experiment 42 has bolt holes 48 and border blanket with through holes 47 surrounding it.
FIG. 3 depicts customer's TPS experiment 42 ablator bonded to carrier plate 46 with more than one bolt hole 48 plus instrumentation wire pass-thru hole 50.
FIG. 4 depicts reusable orbital vehicle 20 with aft flare skirt 24 region containing exterior experiment number 5 footprint 36 and exterior experiment number 6 footprint 38. Exterior experiment number 5 footprint 36 located on aft flare skirt 24 bottom is in a high heat region on the bottom of reusable orbital vehicle 20 and is a tile substitution customer's TPS experiment 42. Border blanket with through holes 47 can be seen around tile substitution customer's TPS experiment 42. Exterior experiment number 5 footprint 36 is in a lower position and is in a high heat region on the bottom of reusable orbital vehicle 20 and is a tile substitution type experiment. Further up on the side of reusable orbital vehicle 20 aft flare skirt 24 region is a lower heat area and the location of exterior experiment number 6 footprint 38, which is a carrier plate type customer's TPS experiment 42.
Also located inside aft flare skirt 24 is installable base unit 52 anchoring deployment arm 54 capable of rotating into the slip stream surrounding reusable orbital vehicle 20 as it moves in environments with some atmosphere at high speed. This high speed creates friction and heat on leading edge TPS experiment 56 and acts through controllable rotation as a method of diverting the slip stream for purposes of steering reusable orbital vehicle 20.
FIG. 5 depicts aft flare skirt 24 region with one retracted position for deployment unit 52 with one retracted position for deployment arm 54 capable of rotating into the slip stream surrounding reusable orbital vehicle 20 as it moves in environments with some atmosphere at high speed. This high speed creates friction and heat on leading edge TPS experiment 56 for testing and other purposes.
FIG. 6 depicts aft flare skirt 24 region for deployment unit 52 with one deployed position for deployment arm 54 capable of rotating into the slip stream surrounding reusable orbital vehicle 20 as it moves in environments with some atmosphere at high speed. This high speed creates friction and heat on leading edge TPS experiment 56 for testing and other purposes. Ground level after landing 92 is far enough to allow protecting of leading edge TPS experiment 56 for testing and reuse purposes.
FIG. 7 depicts reusable orbital vehicle 20 launch and re-entry environments from launch to reuse. Reusable orbital vehicle 20 launches with the assistance of launch assist platform 58 and is part of a complete transportation cycle from launch site landing 80 with experiment recovery 81 to next launch site landing 80 at ground level after landing 92.
Carrier plate type customer's TPS experiment 42 and/or tile substitution type customer's TPS experiment 42 aboard reusable orbital vehicle 20 is carried with launch assist platform 58 from near landing area 80 upwards toward orbit. Reusable orbital vehicle 20 experiences some ascent OV trajectory 88 heating and some re-entry heating and other environments after stage separation 84 at approximately Mach 4.4 at approximately 135,000 feet altitude. Launch assist platform (LAP) 58 after stage separation 84 changes direction 180 degrees, then relights the center engine on launch assist platform (LAP) 58 and propels the nearly empty 1st stage back toward landing 80 area. Launch assist platform (LAP) 58 experiences some re-entry heating and some other environments on LAP re-entry phase 86 moving toward landing 80 area.
Launch assist platform 58 separates from reusable orbital vehicle 20 and propels itself toward landing area 80. Launch assist platform 58 experiences some re-entry heating and other environments before impacting ground near landing area 80.
Reusable orbital vehicle 20 continues to orbit on ascent OV trajectory 88 and experiences some additional ascent heating and other environments. Reusable orbital vehicle 20 reaches orbit, delivers payload and orbits for approximately 22 hours for the earth to spin under it and position reusable orbital vehicle 20 for re-entry OV trajectory 82.
Reusable orbital vehicle 20 continues to entry interface 89 and starts pre-entry phase 60 with open loop bank command at approximately 400,000 feet or 76 miles above the earth. Reusable orbital vehicle 20 continues to entry phase 62 with 0.1 gravity encountered 90. After continuing re-entry OV trajectory 82 reusable orbital vehicle 20 initiate bank reversal 70 and enters bank reversal phase 64. As bank reversal ends 72 reusable orbital vehicle 20 continues to terminal phase 66 of re-entry OV trajectory 82.
Reusable orbital vehicle 20 continues to stabilization chute deployed 74. This starts chute phase 68 and stabilization chute deployed 74, drogue chute deployed 76 and finally main chute deployed 78. This chute phase 68 sequence starts approximately 70,000 feet above the surface.
Reusable orbital vehicle 20 continues under parachute to launch site landing 80. Customer's TPS experiment 42 is part of reusable orbital vehicle 20 processing for reuse, which includes experiment recovery 81.
The preceding examples are repeated with similar success by substituting the generically or specifically described reactants and/or operating conditions of this invention for those used in the preceding examples.
Although the invention has been described in detail with particular reference to these preferred embodiments, other embodiments can achieve the same results. Variations and modifications of the present invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art and it is intended to cover all such modifications and equivalents.
The invention is further illustrated by the following non-limiting examples.
Passive Experiment Mounting Footprints
Six footprints are available to mount Passive Experiments on the outside of the K-1 Orbital Vehicle (OV). These footprints are attached to the exterior of the vehicle. Kistler's approach for passive experiments is to replace existing K-1 hardware (access panels, doors, tile, or blanket parts) with experiments mounted on Carrier Plates or bonded directly to the K-1 structure.
Passive Stowage with Active Re-Entry Environment Exposure
Commercial service includes the stowage of an experiment in the aft flare volume of the launch vehicle out of the re-entry slip stream and the ability to introduce the movable arm tip upon command or other control into the re-entry slip stream during the re-entry phase of the re-entry trajectory.
The preceding examples can be repeated with similar success by substituting the generically or specifically described reactants and/or operating conditions of this invention for those used in the preceding examples.
Although the invention has been described in detail with particular reference to these preferred embodiments, other embodiments can achieve the same results. Variations and modifications of the present invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art and it is intended to cover in the appended claims all such modifications and equivalents. The entire disclosures of all references, applications, patents, and publications cited above are hereby incorporated by reference.
Patent applications by Gary Lai, Seattle, WA US
Patent applications by George E. Mueller, Kirkland, WA US
Patent applications by Kistler Aerospace Corporation