Fine Threads since 2008
- Mar 22, 2008
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I don't think we could have a dock on top that allowed for crew transfer. When the parachute system is taken off, the width of the resulting surface is about 10 cm. Much too small for a dock. If we were using a DG nosecone, then the ENTIRE CAPSULE would open up around the pilot. REmember that the spacecraft itself is about as large as a dock.
Crewmember recovery could be with the capsule. I'm not really sure the guy will have a seat anyways, more like a specially shaped rear wall.
Maybe something like this?:
A conic capsule that opens like a clamshell (i.e. the bottom heatshield is one piece, the cone is the other, connected with a hinge). Pilot EVAs to the heatshield part, straps in, closes and locks the shell. After re-entry, the conic part separates completely (stripped away with a small drogue chute). Another small drogue on the pilot's chest deploys, pulling him out of the heatshield where he/she can then deploy a conventional back-type automatic parachute. No ejection seat needed.
If we're still talking about docking problems, what about:
A. Making the craft EVA-only, no docking at all. Pilot would pilot craft over to a RMS on station, which grabs hold of the ship, and pilot would then EVA to an airlock.
B. A sort of inflatable/unfoldable (perhaps also disposable?) docking ring/umbilical tube thing, which fits over the airlock/cabin hatch of the SOC.
I suppose that both these ideas would require a cabin hatch, though. Is the craft going to have a cabin hatch?
Problem: The heatshield is the same diameter as the rest of the spacecraft, or 0.95 meters. I don't think that the pilot will be able to lay supine on the shield. I guess that the top part of the capsule could be stripped off by a drogue upon completion of reentry, but this would add extra parachutes, not save space.
How about just using an ejection seat for crewmember recovery? After re-entry, but still during free fall, a pyrotechnic hatch opens and the astronaut ejects. The capsule would be a loss, but it is a small piece of equipment anyway.
Unfortunately this means putting an ejection seat inside the capsule, which means more stuff and explosives. Moreover, if the cremember becomes injured in any way, the ejection may well kill or maim him. Keep in mind that ejection is a very traumatic experience and you can't exactly do a large number of ejections before being permanently grounded due to spine damage.