Author Topic: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A  (Read 22810 times)

Offline Rocket Science

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Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« on: 06/10/2012 12:20 AM »
With all the interest generated by Dream Chaser, its direct ancestor the HL-20 and all the other lifting body vehicles, I created this thread to discuss, inform and exchange general questions, ideas and answers as to what exactly a Lifting Body is. This is to keep the Dream Chaser threads clean and without clutter and OT topics as things get busier now. :)

I begin with a NASA publication “Wingless Flight: The Lifting Body Story” which everyone should read. ;)

http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4220/contents.htm

http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/gallery/photo/Fleet/HTML/ECN-2359.html

Next is the excellent compilation and history of test flights at Edwards AFB:

Testing Lifting Bodies at Edwards
By
Robert G. Hoey


http://www.scribd.com/doc/71310742/16/Lifting-Bodies-A-NASA-Perspective

More good reads to add to the list:
 
From Runway to Orbit Reflections of a NASA Engineer

http://www.scribd.com/doc/29425328/From-Runway-to-Orbit-Reflections-of-a-NASA-Engineer
« Last Edit: 12/20/2012 12:10 AM by Rocket Science »
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Offline Akclark

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #1 on: 06/12/2012 03:35 AM »
I worked at JSC when NASA was building the X-38. Seeing V-201 at 80% completion then mothballed was heart wrenching. Attached is a 3DS version of the X-38. I am interested in doing a composite version of a lifting body. Looking at the V-201 skeletal structure, I think it wouldn't be to hard. I could do the frame in balsa wood, then the skin in a fiberglass wet layup.

Offline Alpha Control

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #2 on: 06/12/2012 03:43 AM »
Thanks for creating this thread, R-S. I agree; I think a separate thread is warranted to educate readers on the concept of what is a lifting body and how it works.

Space launches attended:
Antares/Cygnus ORB-D1 Wallops Island, VA Sept 2013 | STS-123 KSC, FL March 2008 | SpaceShipOne Mojave, CA June 2004

Offline truth is life

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #3 on: 06/12/2012 04:31 PM »
I was wondering about some of the really early lifting body designs, which weren't so much "lifting bodies" as lifting blunt bodies; shapes like the Ames M-1*, Martin Model 410, Martin W-1, and so on. These were basically flattened/truncated cones. AFAICT, no one ever did a flight test of these shapes (probably because they couldn't be landed conventionally: they were strictly for improved hypersonic L/D), and it's surprisingly hard to find any information about them at all.

Does anyone know of any good sources about these shapes and why all interest in them seems to have vanished by the mid-1960s? Was it because CG offset allowed conventional capsules to get reasonably large hypersonic L/Ds, while the subsonic L/Ds of these lifting blunt bodies meant that they weren't very attractive for post-Apollo systems (like Shuttle)?

* The shape in the middle of this image. The one on the left is the M2-F1, essentially, the one on the right is a lenticular vehicle.

Speaking of lenticular vehicles...

Offline JAFO

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #4 on: 06/12/2012 05:27 PM »
Everyone knows that Joe Engle flew both the Shuttle and the X-15, but has he ever spoken about his one and only tow in the M2-F1? It's listed that he did a ground tow, but I've never been able to ascertain if he got airborne during it. 
« Last Edit: 06/12/2012 05:30 PM by JAFO »
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Offline RanulfC

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #5 on: 06/12/2012 06:05 PM »
I was wondering about some of the really early lifting body designs, which weren't so much "lifting bodies" as lifting blunt bodies; shapes like the Ames M-1*, Martin Model 410, Martin W-1, and so on. These were basically flattened/truncated cones. AFAICT, no one ever did a flight test of these shapes (probably because they couldn't be landed conventionally: they were strictly for improved hypersonic L/D), and it's surprisingly hard to find any information about them at all.
How was this different from the M2 Lifting bodies shapes? Are we talking a different trunication (on the bottom perhaps) such as the FDL series:
http://www.google.com/search?q=FDL+lifting+bodies&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=qn_XT73VCI-c8gSd-bG9Aw&ved=0CHUQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=829

Quote
Does anyone know of any good sources about these shapes and why all interest in them seems to have vanished by the mid-1960s? Was it because CG offset allowed conventional capsules to get reasonably large hypersonic L/Ds, while the subsonic L/Ds of these lifting blunt bodies meant that they weren't very attractive for post-Apollo systems (like Shuttle)?
A good Google search on the various FDL (Flight Dynamics Laboratory, FYI) lifting body types especially the FDL-5/7 series such as proposed for the "Silver Dart"  and the "Hyper-III" turns up a bit. Especially if you hit up the DoD type sites :)

Quote
* The shape in the middle of this image. The one on the left is the M2-F1, essentially, the one on the right is a lenticular vehicle.
Isn't that one a more 'oval' shape similar to the proposed "Spacecruiser" type hypersonic lifting body?
http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/Science_and_Technology/Other/883.pdf
http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADB143755
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=1103.0
http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/reading_room/883.pdf

Quote
Speaking of lenticular vehicles...
Do NOT get me started... Ok, DO get me started, frankly I enjoy taking any opportunity to talk about them :)
http://www.astronautix.com/fam/lenicles.htm

http://www.nianet.org/rascal/forum2005/presentations/georgia_paper.pdf

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=10223.0

(No landing gear required! However I'd suggest a parachute if your anywhere near the water :) )

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #6 on: 06/12/2012 06:25 PM »
Everyone knows that Joe Engle flew both the Shuttle and the X-15, but has he ever spoken about his one and only tow in the M2-F1? It's listed that he did a ground tow, but I've never been able to ascertain if he got airborne during it. 
It shows he logged 3 tows here, have a look... :)

http://www.scribd.com/doc/71310742/27/Figure-3-6-M2-F1-Low-Speed-Car-Tow
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Offline truth is life

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #7 on: 06/12/2012 06:46 PM »
How was this different from the M2 Lifting bodies shapes? Are we talking a different trunication (on the bottom perhaps) such as the FDL series:
http://www.google.com/search?q=FDL+lifting+bodies&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=qn_XT73VCI-c8gSd-bG9Aw&ved=0CHUQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=829

It's not obvious from the image because the picture is an artist's impression of vehicles intended for atmospheric flight test (like the actual M2-F1) and shows only the upper side (which is quite similar), but they had quite a different shape on the bottom. The difference is more clear in Chapter VII of this Martin report (warning, pdf; a fairly big one), which contains line drawings from several different points of view of various different possible Apollo configurations, including modified Mercury capsules, the L-2-C capsule, and many types of lifting body, including something identified as the M-2 and which seems similar to the actual M-2.

Most of the other lifting bodies, which fall in the category I described, have no wings or fins to assist in aerodynamic flight (they do have body flaps for controllability). Subsonically, they pretty much behave the same as blunt-bodies (a max L/D of ~0.8, apparently) and require parachutes for recovery. Obviously, the M-2 was perfectly capable of runway landing, and was designed to do that...these were closer to capsules that had been slightly modified to generate extra lift without a CG offset. About as far away from the ADL designs as possible.

It's hard for me to describe the shape differences exactly, though. The drawings in the report make it much more clear.

A good Google search on the various FDL (Flight Dynamics Laboratory, FYI) lifting body types especially the FDL-5/7 series such as proposed for the "Silver Dart"  and the "Hyper-III" turns up a bit. Especially if you hit up the DoD type sites :)

I think the Flight Dynamics Lab got to the scene a bit late (most of what I'm interested in were Ames proposals, from the late '50s or very early '60s) and wanted a bit more performance than what these seemed to be targeted at. Many seemed targeted towards lunar return, where obviously a high-performance lifting body would have problems due to sharp angles and high entry speeds. These seemed more intended to squeeze a bit more performance, especially for lunar return, out of a nearly blunt body (to widen the entry corridor and enable skip-entry, for example).

That said, the X-24B is awfully cool :) I do kinda wonder why later thinking tended to go back to the X-24A/HL-10/M2-F3-type "bulbous" shapes over the "flatiron" and other ADL designs.

Isn't that one a more 'oval' shape similar to the proposed "Spacecruiser" type hypersonic lifting body?
http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/Science_and_Technology/Other/883.pdf
http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADB143755
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=1103.0
http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/reading_room/883.pdf

It was supposed to be a lenticular design. Blame it on the particular circumstances of the program the image was created for (all three were supposed to have the same internal structure, just the external panels being changed to test different designs.

Offline GClark

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #8 on: 06/13/2012 01:30 AM »
IIRC, the primary differences between the M-1 and M-2 had to do with the back end.  Reed said (I'm paraphrasing) that they added the boattail, fins, and cockpit/flow fence.  These changes were necessary to handle the tendency of the M-1 to become (ahem) rather unstable in the transonic/subsonic regime.

On the shift back from sharp shapes, the more bulbous shapes had a higher volumetric effeciency.

Offline truth is life

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #9 on: 06/13/2012 05:02 PM »
IIRC, the primary differences between the M-1 and M-2 had to do with the back end.  Reed said (I'm paraphrasing) that they added the boattail, fins, and cockpit/flow fence.  These changes were necessary to handle the tendency of the M-1 to become (ahem) rather unstable in the transonic/subsonic regime.

I can see how that would be a problem for the Dryden people, yes. How much would it have mattered for a reentry vehicle descending on parachutes, which could presumably have deployed a supersonic parachute for stability during the transonic regime, then subsonic parachutes for final deceleration and landing? Wouldn't the parachutes have provided a significant amount of stabilization themselves?

On the shift back from sharp shapes, the more bulbous shapes had a higher volumetric effeciency.

True, I suppose the performance of the sharp shapes isn't needed for, eg., Dream Catcher or HL-20, since even the bulbous shapes can get acceptable subsonic L/D. I wonder if the Air Force looked at the sharp shapes further for, eg., their sortie vehicle? In that application, the greater hypersonic L/D of the sharp shapes seems like it would be more useful.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #10 on: 06/13/2012 09:15 PM »
IIRC, the primary differences between the M-1 and M-2 had to do with the back end.  Reed said (I'm paraphrasing) that they added the boattail, fins, and cockpit/flow fence.  These changes were necessary to handle the tendency of the M-1 to become (ahem) rather unstable in the transonic/subsonic regime.

I can see how that would be a problem for the Dryden people, yes. How much would it have mattered for a reentry vehicle descending on parachutes, which could presumably have deployed a supersonic parachute for stability during the transonic regime, then subsonic parachutes for final deceleration and landing? Wouldn't the parachutes have provided a significant amount of stabilization themselves?
Well there is ONE issue right there you know :)

Dryden folks were AIRCRAFT people and it not only had to FLY to a landing it had to MAKE an aircraft type landing. None of this "parachute" stuff going on around here! :)

Seriously if you look into the work done with the various FDL shapes over the years and what the Air Force was looking at as opposed to what NASA was lookng for you should note that the types of lifting bodies you're talking about WERE what the Air Force prefered. Mostly BECAUSE they had such high hypersonic L/D numbers :)

Quote
On the shift back from sharp shapes, the more bulbous shapes had a higher volumetric effeciency.

True, I suppose the performance of the sharp shapes isn't needed for, eg., Dream Catcher or HL-20, since even the bulbous shapes can get acceptable subsonic L/D. I wonder if the Air Force looked at the sharp shapes further for, eg., their sortie vehicle? In that application, the greater hypersonic L/D of the sharp shapes seems like it would be more useful.
As a matter of fact they did. NASA prefered the more "bulbous" shapes because they wanted the detached shock-wave effect of the more rounded surfaces to avoid using any type of active thermal system. (That seems to remain the case)

The Air Force on the other hand wasn't all that adverse to active systems since they had and have a long exeperiance with transpiration cooling and warhead RV design. I think that's very much a Max Faget legacy for NASA where as he didn't have the same influance over military RV design. (That's just my HO though :) )

BTW, it's "Dream-Chaser" as a "Dream-Catcher" is loop with all sorts of chrotchey strings criss-crossing the middle ;)

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #11 on: 06/13/2012 09:33 PM »
While at the corner store yesterday I was bored while standing in line. So I start perusing the DVD rack and low and behold there was a copy of Marooned with everybody’s favorite lifting body movie star the “XRV”. Needless to say I scooped up the copy, can always use a spare… ;D

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064639/
http://www.cloudster.com/Sets&Vehicles/Marooned/MaroonedTop.htm
« Last Edit: 06/13/2012 09:42 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline truth is life

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #12 on: 06/13/2012 10:15 PM »
Well there is ONE issue right there you know :)

Dryden folks were AIRCRAFT people and it not only had to FLY to a landing it had to MAKE an aircraft type landing. None of this "parachute" stuff going on around here! :)

Um, yes, that's why I said "I can see how that would be a problem for the Dryden people, yes" and then started to talk about something else completely. After all, the point of the M-1-type shapes wasn't for the Dryden people to have a grand old time flying them around...it was to build capsule-type reentry vehicles occupying a middle-ground between the "fly-back" lifting body shapes (like the M-2) and the pure capsules (like Mercury). They were never intended to be flown, at least not at subsonic or transonic velocities, so the only real question is whether or not parachutes or other recovery assist devices (eg., Rogallo wing, parafoil) might have overcome that difficulty.

Seriously if you look into the work done with the various FDL shapes over the years and what the Air Force was looking at as opposed to what NASA was lookng for you should note that the types of lifting bodies you're talking about WERE what the Air Force prefered. Mostly BECAUSE they had such high hypersonic L/D numbers :)

Well, clearly, in the 1960s and 1970s. I was asking about the 1980s and beyond; the Shuttle years.

BTW, it's "Dream-Chaser" as a "Dream-Catcher" is loop with all sorts of chrotchey strings criss-crossing the middle ;)

Oh, it's more than that...I have one. Or maybe two. Yah, silly mistake, but nothing more.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #13 on: 06/15/2012 07:15 PM »
PRIME / SV-5D / X-23
(Precession Recovery Including Maneuvering Entry) - (Space Vehicle – 5D) Launched on Atlas.

http://www.liftingbody.net/PRIME__x-23_.html
« Last Edit: 06/15/2012 07:22 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline XP67_Moonbat

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #14 on: 06/27/2012 02:52 AM »
I was looking thru an old Air & Space recently. There was an article from 1991 on lifting bodies. At the end, Dale Reed recalled how he sold Von Braun on the idea of flying an HL-10 in the LEM adapter of unused Saturn V's from Apollo. The only showstopper was funding.

Was there an actual proposal behind that?

Offline vulture4

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #15 on: 07/02/2012 04:20 PM »
Wings are structurally thin airfoils designed specifically to provide lift, with an aspect ratio of 1 or greater. The term "lifting body" has generally been applied to vehicles designed for atmospheric entry with lift greater than that provided by capsules but which did not utilize wings.

I clearly recall the llifting body concept presented in a short video in the '60's which said that wings with a sharp leading edge would melt due to entry heating. Quite a range of lifting bodies were tested but it isn't clear that any ever achieved an unpowered landing at a realistic weight for an entry vehicle. With the development of RCC, the carbon composite leading edge material which can tolerate extreme temperatures, the Shuttle program quickly recognized the major improvement in L/D possible with conventional wings and took that path instead.

Anyone who has watched the Shuttle land in marginal winds knows how valuable every bit of lift can be on final approach, and how much safer it would be with a lower touchdown speed and greater control margins. I cannot imagine selecting a vehicle with even slimmer safety margins for landing on a runway. Conversely the X-37, which evolved from the Shuttle design, has landed twice from space at a relatively comfortable speed of about 100 knots and with no visible TPS damage at all.

Yet I can find no indication in the Commercial Crew selection criteria that any advantage was given to a vehicle with better aerodynamic performance (i.e. the OSC Prometheus). Apparently the Dreamchaser was chosen over the Prometheus because of its larger passenger capacity (4 vs 6, although both met the spec) without any consideration of such basic aerodynamic criteria as lift and drag.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #16 on: 07/02/2012 04:35 PM »
Wings are structurally thin airfoils designed specifically to provide lift, with an aspect ratio of 1 or greater. The term "lifting body" has generally been applied to vehicles designed for atmospheric entry with lift greater than that provided by capsules but which did not utilize wings.

I clearly recall the llifting body concept presented in a short video in the '60's which said that wings with a sharp leading edge would melt due to entry heating. Quite a range of lifting bodies were tested but it isn't clear that any ever achieved an unpowered landing at a realistic weight for an entry vehicle. With the development of RCC, the carbon composite leading edge material which can tolerate extreme temperatures, the Shuttle program quickly recognized the major improvement in L/D possible with conventional wings and took that path instead.

Anyone who has watched the Shuttle land in marginal winds knows how valuable every bit of lift can be on final approach, and how much safer it would be with a lower touchdown speed and greater control margins. I cannot imagine selecting a vehicle with even slimmer safety margins for landing on a runway. Conversely the X-37, which evolved from the Shuttle design, has landed twice from space at a relatively comfortable speed of about 100 knots and with no visible TPS damage at all.

Yet I can find no indication in the Commercial Crew selection criteria that any advantage was given to a vehicle with better aerodynamic performance (i.e. the OSC Prometheus). Apparently the Dreamchaser was chosen over the Prometheus because of its larger passenger capacity (4 vs 6, although both met the spec) without any consideration of such basic aerodynamic criteria as lift and drag.
You need to add about 100kts to your quoted landing speed…

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:xYntI079RnwJ:ftp://ftp.rta.nato.int/PubFullText/RTO/EN/RTO-EN-AVT-116/EN-AVT-116-02-APP-01.pdf+&hl=en&gl=ca&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShvwgZ5Gr06tY4Oz3SV6PLJP7E9LiqdFGBCYyADH93lR7mgkZ5MuszOorjTF5Ush_VYmM3uoWJTgGxOfjGnyR1xwQxESxZsXSA3WQNRKJxNfpBgjMZpa5bHgTPp4H5xWTX9LR6v&sig=AHIEtbTP8XGDvIOG4TM5HHpvqZN_G5y1kw
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline Jim

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #17 on: 07/02/2012 04:38 PM »
without any consideration of such basic aerodynamic criteria as lift and drag.

Because those are derived and not requirements of the solicitations.

Offline vulture4

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #18 on: 07/05/2012 09:10 PM »
Quote
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:xYntI079RnwJ:ftp://ftp.rta.nato.int/PubFullText/RTO/EN/RTO-EN-AVT-116/EN-AVT-116-02-APP-01.pdf+&hl=en&gl=ca&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShvwgZ5Gr06tY4Oz3SV6PLJP7E9LiqdFGBCYyADH93lR7mgkZ5MuszOorjTF5Ush_VYmM3uoWJTgGxOfjGnyR1xwQxESxZsXSA3WQNRKJxNfpBgjMZpa5bHgTPp4H5xWTX9LR6v&sig=AHIEtbTP8XGDvIOG4TM5HHpvqZN_G5y1kw

Thanks, this is certainly an interesting document. I am curious as to why NASA dropped the program, and why DOD first dropped it as a partner with NASA and then restarted it alone. Despite the two missions it isn't clear whether it is "operational" in its present form. In recent years DOD has expressed considerable interest in a fully reusable launch system as Jay Penn described in this study:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/news/beyondnextgen.html

Maybe the X-37 is intended as a prototype for a component of such a system.
« Last Edit: 07/05/2012 09:13 PM by vulture4 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Lifting Body Air and Spacecraft Q & A
« Reply #19 on: 07/05/2012 09:12 PM »
A good link for lifting body flight here on Earth, Venus and Mars:

http://history.nasa.gov/conghand/atmosphe.htm
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

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