Broadcast 1308 (Special Edition)

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Guests: CLASROOM: Dan Adamo and co-hosts: Topics: Lesson 3: Orbital/Flight Dynamics. Lesson 3 discussed the basics of orbital and flight dynamics over a two hour plus period. As with all Classroom programs, the goal was to ground listeners on the facts of space flight. In our initial segment, Dan provided us with a basic understanding of both orbital and flight dynamics and what a Flight Dynamics Officer (FDO pronounced as Fido) actually does. We talked about the training required, the supervision, internships, computers used and the various positions available including working the console. Dan also explained the difference in doing an LEO mission versus a longer mission to the Moon, a NEO, or Mars. He also described the differences in working a human spaceflight mission versus a science or robotic mission. I asked Dan to extrapolate to the needs of orbital space tourism or an orbital destination to a Bigelow space station. We described and explained transfer orbits using the Moon as an example. This is a very important factual discussion including rendezvous, the concept of antipode, and launch windows. Here, our panelists explained that we launch eastward but to go to ISS at 51.6 North, we have to go to the NE. The penalty for doing this was clearly and technically explained. This discussion brought up staging and the tyranny of the rocket equation. Pay attention to the required maneuvering to get to station, why it starts almost immediately after leaving the pad, and the penalty paid by Europeans and even the Russians to get to this orbit. As you will hear, once at the ISS, its easy to go to the Moon and other places, but getting to ISS does involve a costly launch penalty. I asked about polar orbits to the Moon and our panel members explained the facts of this type of orbital action in detail. The timing and windows on the polar orbit are far more severe than equatorial or an ISS launch. In our second segment, our guests said that the reason orbital dynamics was so hard was because of the tyranny of the rocket equation. Dan then talked about Adamo's Rules for the Road for Gravitational Harmony. These rules are on the blog as part of the Lesson 3 presentation materials. A propellant depot discussion followed. This is an essential and must hear part of this Classroom program as we talked about orbital dynamics issues, propellant depot orbits and locations including at the destination, cryogenic transfer, location near the ISS and much more. Plausible and not so plausible propellant depot missions were described. We suggested that those proposing propellant depots need to undertake a Conceptual Mission Design and run the numbers. Orbital and flight dynamics need to be part of the analysis, not just the engineering issues. We then talked about the presentation material submitted by Dr. Jurist and partial orbits, launch east instead of west and Jim brought up the concept of minimum energy used by the clipper ships as an analogy to why launching east is more effective than Point to Point going west. Our panel members said the purpose of the Classroom was to offer grounding on the issues controlling spaceflight. Jim suggested that the future is not unfolding as any of us thought it would be and this presents us with disconnects from facts and reality. Dr. Logan suggested four areas that we must all be grounded in: 1) the rocket equation; 2) flight dynamic; 3) bio-medical and human factors realities for space travel; 4) propulsion. He said to solve these much needed problems, grounding is essential. All of us agreed. If you have comments or questions, please post them on The Space Show Classroom blog at under the Lesson 3 Archive section. All co-host email addresses are on the blog and Dan Adamo said he could be reached at All notes and comments sent to me at will be posted on the blog.



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15 Feb 2010 Dan Adamo, Dr. John Jurist, Dr. David Livingston, Dr. Jim Logan
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