Author Topic: Paper vehicles in space  (Read 3228 times)

Offline UK Shuttle Clan

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Offline mlorrey

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RE: Paper vehicles in space
« Reply #1 on: 08/10/2006 11:53 pm »
Actually, if they embed the paper of the reentry plane with flame retardants, it should be able to reenter without burning up.

The average sheet of paper (8.5"x11", or 0.65 ft^2) weighs 4.5 grams (<0.001 lbs). This results in a wing loading of 0.015 lb/ft^2. Lets say we double that by adding flame retardant. The space shuttle has a wing loading of 96.5 lb/ft^2 on reentry. The X-33 would have had a wing loading of about 32 lb/ft^2, and the FIRST inflatable emergency reentry pod had a wing loading of 11.3 lb/ft^2. I suspect that the paper airplane will never develop a hypersonic shock wave, its local IAS will always remain subsonic, and it will glide to earth rarther daintily.
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Offline tycho

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Re: Paper vehicles in space
« Reply #2 on: 08/11/2006 11:03 pm »
very interesting, mlorrey.
"We have lingered for too long on the shores of the cosmic ocean; it's time to set sail for the stars."
Carl Sagan

Offline mlorrey

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Re: Paper vehicles in space
« Reply #3 on: 08/12/2006 08:29 pm »
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tycho - 11/8/2006  5:50 PM

very interesting, mlorrey.

Thanks. If we take the temp of burning paper to be 451 F, and double that with a flame retardant to 900 F, we should see it deal rather favorably, particularly if it reenters on the night side.

Here's another cool idea: a model of FIRSTs rogallo wing, made from the steel fabric material used in automotive airbags.

Given the impending growth of orbital tourism services, I would suggest that it is time to start re-developing some of these old concepts to provide emergency escape options for people in orbit.
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Founder, Lorrey Aerospace, B&T Holdings, ACE Exchange, and Hypersonic Systems. Currently I am a venture recruiter for Family Office Venture Capital.

Offline mauk2

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Re: Paper vehicles in space
« Reply #4 on: 08/12/2006 08:45 pm »
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Given the impending growth of orbital tourism services, I would suggest that it is time to start re-developing some of these old concepts to provide emergency escape options for people in orbit.

Emergency escape options??  PIFFLE!

Recreation!  Remember the old movie Dark Star?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069945/  

SURF FROM ORBIT, BABY!  :D

Offline mlorrey

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Re: Paper vehicles in space
« Reply #5 on: 08/15/2006 06:19 pm »
Yes, I've certainly thought of hang gliding from orbit as a new "extreme sport".... and while I'm sure there are a few BASE jumpers who are hot to try it, there are barely a few dozen BASE jumpers in the world, and I doubt more than a handful have the assets to try such a sport.

However, it would be a profitable means of using up said emergency escape pods that are nearing their expiration dates...
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Founder, Lorrey Aerospace, B&T Holdings, ACE Exchange, and Hypersonic Systems. Currently I am a venture recruiter for Family Office Venture Capital.

Offline EE Scott

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Re: Paper vehicles in space
« Reply #6 on: 08/20/2006 12:49 am »
This is something I've thought about for years.  I read that book, the "Pre-Astronauts" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591147484/sr=1-1/qid=1156033735/ref=sr_1_1/102-5853408-2729734?ie=UTF8&s=books) and really spent some time thinking about how a person could "de-orbit" safely.  Just a facinating concept.  I also remember reading something long ago about very small "escape pods" that were being designed where an astronaut is almost in a type of a bubble, that would get protect him through the upper atmosphere until he could employ his parachute.

However the idea that paper airplanes could survive re-entry into the atmosphere simply by its aerodynamics and physical properties is really an amazing possibility.
Scott

Offline josh_simonson

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Re: Paper vehicles in space
« Reply #7 on: 08/20/2006 10:27 pm »
The ECHO spacecraft were giant aluminized mylar balloons that had a higher surface area to weight ratio than paper airplanes, and they burnt up on re-entry.  Even though the skin doesn't get hot, the impact of air molecules is like bumping into a molecule at 50k'C.  The airplane as a whole won't get hot enough to burn, but each impact will destroy the cellulose molecules that make up the paper, resulting in it becoming ash by the time it slowed down.

Offline mlorrey

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Re: Paper vehicles in space
« Reply #8 on: 09/09/2006 05:33 pm »
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josh_simonson - 20/8/2006  5:14 PM

The ECHO spacecraft were giant aluminized mylar balloons that had a higher surface area to weight ratio than paper airplanes, and they burnt up on re-entry.  Even though the skin doesn't get hot, the impact of air molecules is like bumping into a molecule at 50k'C.  The airplane as a whole won't get hot enough to burn, but each impact will destroy the cellulose molecules that make up the paper, resulting in it becoming ash by the time it slowed down.

Not quite. Mylar is a polyester compound. It may have burnt up because it was combustible with oxygen ions in the ionosphere. Might as well have made it out of acetate... however I wonder whether it actually did burn up or not.

What I am suggesting is that a paper airplane impregnated with flame retardants would mean that the molecules hitting at 50k'C would strike retardant materials first.

If so much of Columbia could survive breakup during reentry and reach ground, then it becomes clear that things don't just burn up because they are going fast: their density/cross sectional area is very important.
VP of International Spaceflight Museum - http://ismuseum.org
Founder, Lorrey Aerospace, B&T Holdings, ACE Exchange, and Hypersonic Systems. Currently I am a venture recruiter for Family Office Venture Capital.

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