Author Topic: How many G's did the monkeys Able and Baker take on their space flights?  (Read 1223 times)

Online SkipMorrow

I just got back from space camp, and they had a display up talking about Able and Baker. The thing that puzzled me was that the scientists estimated that Able and Baker took about 38 g's during the flight (I should have taken a picture of the display). I know that launches typically feel three or four g's, and re-entry can feel upwards of nine or ten. How could they have felt 38 g's? How could the spacecraft even take 38 g's? Or is the whole 38 g's a mistake? What's more, wikipedia also says 38 g's (not that wikipedia is always right though)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkeys_and_apes_in_space#United_States

Offline edkyle99

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I just got back from space camp, and they had a display up talking about Able and Baker. The thing that puzzled me was that the scientists estimated that Able and Baker took about 38 g's during the flight (I should have taken a picture of the display). I know that launches typically feel three or four g's, and re-entry can feel upwards of nine or ten. How could they have felt 38 g's? How could the spacecraft even take 38 g's? Or is the whole 38 g's a mistake? What's more, wikipedia also says 38 g's (not that wikipedia is always right though)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkeys_and_apes_in_space#United_States
Able and Baker rode in a Jupiter IRBM nose cone, not in a spacecraft designed to carry humans or primates.  They experienced up to 10g during the boost phase.  Their maximum g-loads were experienced during the nose cone deceleration when it was reentering the atmosphere.  Jupiter nose cones were relatively big reentry vehicles with ablative heat shields that were spin-stabilized prior to reentry.  They were designed to plunge quickly through the atmosphere, and thus suffer high g-loads, in part to reduce targeting error.  The two tiny primates rode inside special capsules that, essentially, occupied the space normally reserved for a thermonuclear warhead.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 07/07/2014 03:06 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline Blackstar

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The 38 g figure also appears in "Animals in Space" by Colin Burgess and Chris Dubbs on page 136.

http://www.amazon.com/Animals-Space-Research-Springer-Exploration/dp/0387360530/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404702577&sr=1-1&keywords=animals+in+space

Burgess is a pretty good researcher, although there is no footnote for that piece of data. It seems a bit high to me, but that's just a guess on my part. The only way to get an authoritative source would be some contemporary document, such as a scientific journal article with the results of the flight.
« Last Edit: 07/07/2014 03:12 AM by Blackstar »

Offline edkyle99

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Here's a paper on the Bioflight 2 results.  It does not include deceleration g-forces, but the official Jupiter history document lists standard IRBM reentry max g-forces of up to 44 g.  I wonder if these were transient peaks or actual steady state deceleration forces.

 - Ed Kyle

Online SkipMorrow

Two fantastic replies! Thanks! :)

It would appear then that the 38g figure may indeed be accurate. The spin stabilized re-entry could easily reach into that range of g's. Also, the landing could have reached 38 g's, but that would be a transient, rather than sustained.

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