Analysis of the aerodynamic orbital transfer capabilities of a winged re-entry vehicle
Pienkowski, John P.
Whitmore, Stephen A.
Spencer, Michael G.
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The ability to perform an inclination change maximizes the maneuverability of an orbiting space vehicle. Most maneuvers utilize a combined plane change and orbital transfer to the new orbit. This costs more in terms of energy and fuel than an in-plane change of orbits. The amount of DV and fuel required for such an energyintensive inclination change exceeds the benefit of performing the maneuver. However, this paper demonstrates that a winged re-entry vehicle, based on the currently proposed X-37, has the necessary thrust to change planes and then perform an in-plane transfer to achieve a new orbit. Using SIMULINKâ and LABVIEWâ simulation tools, this research found that the use of the aerodynamic lift of a winged re-entry vehicle produced more than 12Ê» of inclination change with the minimal DV achievable. Through small orbital maneuvers and atmospheric reentry, the aerodynamics of the lift vector demonstrated that the spacecraft retained sufficient energy to prevent perigee collapse using an orbital regulation code to control throttle setting.
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