Accuracy requirements for cannon-launched space missions

P. T. Putman, S. J. Scruggs, Y. X. Zhou, H. Fang, K. Salama

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Cannon launch has been proposed on several occasions as a comparatively inexpensive means of earth-to-space propulsion. In most of these proposals, an initial boost is given to a spacecraft by an electric or light gas gun, followed by a rocket burn that places the spacecraft into a stable orbit. In this study, we examined the accuracy needed to successfully achieve missions based on primarily ballistic trajectories, avoiding midcourse corrections to the extent possible. The results for four different missions are presented. First, launch of a payload from the moon's surface to a "catcher" at Lagrange points 1 and 2, previously studied by Heppenheimer. Next, launch from the earth to a catcher at L1, and, finally, launch from the earth directly to the moon. It was found that the accuracy required in launch speed is within the realm of possibility for electromagnetic launch methods that include feedback control of speed; for example, the accuracy requirement for earth to moon launch is + or -45 m/s at 12 km/s, or + or -0.4%. The acceptable error in launch time for this mission is quite large as well. Assuming an exact speed at the time that the projectile leaves the atmosphere, the launch can occur within a window of approximately one hour. The prospects for achieving these missions with developing electromagnetic launch technology are also presented. Copyright ASCE 2006.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEarth and Space 2006 - Proceedings of the 10th Biennial International Conference on Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments
Number of pages1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 28 2006
EventEarth and Space 2006 - 10th Biennial International Conference on Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments - League City/Houston, TX, United States
Duration: Mar 5 2006Mar 8 2006

Publication series

NameEarth and Space 2006 - Proceedings of the 10th Biennial International Conference on Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments
Volume2006

Conference

ConferenceEarth and Space 2006 - 10th Biennial International Conference on Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments
CountryUnited States
CityLeague City/Houston, TX
Period3/5/063/8/06

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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    Putman, P. T., Scruggs, S. J., Zhou, Y. X., Fang, H., & Salama, K. (2006). Accuracy requirements for cannon-launched space missions. In Earth and Space 2006 - Proceedings of the 10th Biennial International Conference on Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments (Earth and Space 2006 - Proceedings of the 10th Biennial International Conference on Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments; Vol. 2006). https://doi.org/10.1061/40830(188)17