Space Essay

4161 words - 17 pages

I. Introduction:
The purpose of this paper is an overview about the current space tourism industry with advanced developments of space vehicles. Until now, seven tourists have ridden Soyuz spacecraft, a Russian spacecraft, to the International Space Station. Capturing the potential demand of space tourism, many private companies began to introduce their new and well-designed spacecraft promising to enable tourist to travel to space. From now to the next couple of years, we are expected to see many launches including testing and commercial flights into suborbital and low Earth orbit. There are also some private companies, who were awarded by NASA for their space programs to carry astronauts ...view middle of the document...

The White Knight is equipped to flight-qualify all the spacecraft systems, except rocket propulsion. Its design mission is to provide a high-altitude airborne launch of SpaceShipOne, a manned sub-orbital spacecraft. The White Knight’s cockpit, avionics, ECS, pneumatics, trim servos, data system, and electrical system components are identical to those installed on the SpaceShipOne. Using high thrust-to-weight ratio and enormous speed brakes (hydraulic wheel brakes and nose-gear steering; super-effective, pneumatic speed brakes that allows steep descent with L/D <4.5), the White Knight allows the astronauts in training to practice space-flight maneuvers such as boost, approach, and landing with a very realistic environment. Therefore, the SpaceShipOne pilots use the WhiteKnightOne aircraft as a high-fidelity moving-base simulator for training. Besides, the WhiteKnightOne also has other mission capabilities such as: reconnaissance, surveillance, atmospheric research, data relay, telecommunications, imaging and booster launch for micro-satellites. SpaceShipOne has a three-place, high-altitude research rocket, which is designed for sub-orbital flights to 100 km altitude. “The unique configuration allows aircraft-like qualities for boost, glide, and landing. The ship converts (via pneumatic-actuated feather) to a stable, high-drag shape for atmospheric entry. This “care-free” configuration allows a “hands-off” re-entry and greatly reduces aero/thermal loads. Designed for a “shirt-sleeve” environment, the 60” diameter cabin has a space-qualified ECS, as well as dual-pane windows. The ship uses three flight control systems - manual-subsonic, electric-supersonic and cold-gas RCS. SpaceShipOne’s hybrid rocket motor is a non-toxic, liquid nitrous-oxide/rubber-fuel hybrid propulsion system. The avionics onboard provide the pilot with the precise guidance information needed to manually fly SpaceShipOne for boost and re-entry. It also provides guidance for approach and landing and vehicle health monitoring. The unit stores and telemeters flight test data to Mission Control.” (Ref 1)
b. SpaceshipTwo – WhiteKnightTwo:
After the success of the first generation of SpaceShipOne and its mothership aircraft WhiteKnightOne, Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic introduce the WhiteKnightTwo, which has its first flight on December 21, 2008, and the SpaceShipTwo, which is first launched on October 10, 2010. The WhiteKnightTwo is about three times larger than its predecessor in order to perform a captive flight with the larger SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. The WhiteKnightTwo has 140 feet wing-span (only 16 feet less than Boeing 767-300), 78 feet length and 25 feet tail height. It uses highly efficient turbo fan jet engines and is equipped with Quadricycle gear. Also like the WhiteKnightOne, the WhiteKnightTwo will provide preview flights offering several seconds of weightlessness before the suborbital event, and this allows pilots and tourists to practice before the...

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