Nov 19, 2008

Converting a "Moon-Impactor" to a "Moon-Lander"

As India's Chandryaan-1 mission showed this week, it's possible to use existing launch vehicles and conventional satellite design solutions to reach lunar orbit, and even to send a probe to the impact surface. The only remaining step in order to have a complete lunar surface transportation service is to master the technology of slowing down your lander to have a soft-landing, rather than the hard-landing (aka "impact") of the Indian probe.

In the 1960's, with its Surveyor program, NASA mastered the technology of using a solid rocket motor to decelarate a lander, removing over 90% of its speed to allow a relatively small liquid-fuel propulsion system to make the final descent and landing.

To help with the design of your solid rocket motor breaking stage, you might like to check out Rogers Aeroscience who has recently published some useful reference materials. The following articles are available from their website;
  • Performance Analysis of the Ideal Rocket Motor.
  • Departures from Ideal Performance for Conical Nozzles and Bell Nozzles, Straight-Cut Throats and Rounded Throats.
  • Erosive Burning Design Criteria for High Power and Experimental/Amateur Solid Rocket Motors.

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