[FPSPACE] SS1 to go for X-Prize Monday morning
zirconic1 at earthlink.net
Sun Oct 3 23:11:19 EDT 2004
Takeoff expected at 1400 GMT (11AM East Coast time, 8AM West Coast), with ignition an hour later.
"While the first roll occurred at a high true speed, about 2.7 Mach, the aerodynamic loads were quite low (120 knots equivalent airspeed) and were decreasing rapidly, so the ship never saw any significant structural stresses. The reason that there were so many rolls was because shortly after they started, Mike was approaching the extremities of the atmosphere. Nearly all of the 29 rolls that followed the initial departure were basically at near-zero-q, thus they were a continuous rolling motion without aerodynamic damping, rather than the airplane-like aerodynamic rolls seen by an aerobatic airplane. In other words, they were more like space flight than they were like airplane flight. Thus, Mike could not damp the motions with his aerodynamic flight controls.
"Mike elected to wait until he feathered the boom-tail in space, before using the reaction control system thrusters (RCS) to damp the roll rate. When he finally started to damp the rates he did so successfully and promptly. The RCS damping, to a stable attitude without significant angular rates was complete well before the ship reached apogee (337,600 feet, or 103 Km). That gave mike time to relax, note his peak altitude, and then pick up a digital high-resolution camera and take some great photos out the windows. Those photos are now being considered for publication by a major magazine."
While all of this sounds plausible, I'm confused (and a little annoyed) that Rutan doesn't explain why it rolled in the first place, instead saying that they will explain that later in a detailed report. That just seems weird. Why not just state the cause? It's not like it is a trade secret or anything.
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