Helo Speed Records

This is becoming an aerospace video blog. 🙂

The eighties

Versus the teens

Westland Lynx only reached 90 m/s while X2 is doing 130 m/s. The ability to let the rotor spin slowly since only the advancing blade needs to lift in a counter rotating rotor allows the X2 reach a high speed.

Inspired by Michel Van (not Scott Lowther as mentioned earlier) at Secret Projects, who ran into the Gemini inflatable Rogallo wing test videos that are now available (not embeddable so linked only). There are parafoil systems for airdropping stuff, though they don’t seem to be doing flares or line pulls to soften the impact:

And if somebody says parafoils are not maneuverable, I give you a Russian self built RC parafoil:

Speaking of rocketry, a member from the local hybrid group said they have found out the probable cause of roll control problems: the forward fins that were put on the rocket for roll control cause huge vortices when deflected, so that they effect the main fins far aft and the effect might be the opposite from intended.

Gravity Assist Competition

Or The Space Game, by ESA.

The Space Game Screenshot

Minimize delta vee by moving the planets around (this changes the probe's arrival time at the planet). This shows my best solution so far, with some playing one evening, about 13 km/s

This is a nice javascript webpage where a probe is shot from Earth to Jupiter with gravity assists at Venus (twice), Earth and Mars. You try to achieve the lowest propulsive delta vee. You decide when the spacecraft arrives at each encounter and the program basically calculates the rest. It’s quite a nifty little piece of Javascript, the future of web applications is like this. It works fine with Chrome on Linux at least. Probably IE will have problems but who uses that anyway?

I’m ranked at #39 at 12.74 km/s… Far behind the gurus who get below 10 km/s readings! There are apparently some prizes for the top three, but I think people are in it for the fun of it.

Sankrithi Channels Wallis

Most people with interest in aerospace history know of Barnes Wallis’ geodetic structures, most famously used on the Vickers Wellington. He first invented them for the R100 airship, basically a weave of thin aluminum shapes going in different directions, forming a grid. No bulkheads or even wing spars needed, but it was quite complicated to build. Fabric was used as a cover, first linen and later thin steel wire mesh. It became outdated when airplanes were pressurized and moved to aluminium monocoque structures.

Vickers Wellington with some skin shot off

Well, now, airplane manufacturing technologies are changing again, after some 70 years of riveted aluminium sheets, bulkheads and spars. Composites laid by robots enable fancy shapes, and optimizing the strenght carefully in various directions. Boeing has been looking at a 737 replacement. So far, pressure hulls have had to be cylinder or ball sections – only that way the thin skin can be in pure tension, the only force it can really resist. Often a double bubble has been used, with the cabin floor dividing the lower and upper half into two circular sections and also keeping the left and right side together at the same time. A circular frame is not very space efficient for humans though, so Sankrithi et al at Boeing figured out how to put fibers in a grid to enable a roughly elliptical shape that is wider than it is tall. The advantages are not entirely clear to me from their description, since they seem to say the ratio of seats per circumference is similar to a circular frame, but it is nevertheless interesting. (Also, it’s strange that Free patents online shows that the patent was filed in 2009, yet Google shows it was filed in 2005, yet they seem the same at first glance).

Fiber reinforcement grid geometries for an airplane fuselage

This has some relation to the X-33 where they also attempted non-cylindrical composite pressure vessels. The technology has advanced since though.

In a patent by the famous Barnaby Wainfan. EDIT: corrected the link. This patent was filed in 2006 and granted in 2008.

Enter, turn, boost, glide

Rockwell X-33 Pictures!

From NASA Langley – they did wind tunnel tests on a model. Lots more pictures of various aerospace projects there too, some of them are quite weird. Thanks to Secret Projects forum for the info!

Rockwell X-33 wind tunnell model front view

Rockwell X-33 wind tunnell model side view

Naturally since Rockwell built the orbiter, this one looks like the orbiter too. With an SSME and RL-10:s (so Rand.org says) and cylindrical tanks, it would have been far lower risk than the Lockheed version that won.

In a sense, the “almost pure rocket” cone, the “flies a little better than a rock” lifting body and the “almost flies like a dangerous plane” winged vehicle are the three main paradigms to reusable vehicles.

Though, with SHARP (or like McD did with active cooling), your lifting body can be sharp edged and have vastly superior L/D compared to blunt ones.

The Last Mammoth Song

Alina Orlova from Lithuania