DEVELOPMENT AND THERMAL PERFORMANCE OF THE DISCOVERER HEAT SHIELD
GENERAL ELECTRIC CO PHILADELPHIA PA MISSILE AND SPACE DIV
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A review of all aspects of the Discoverer design is presented, including the environment definition, selection of the heat protection system, system design techniques, and the predicted vehicle capability. Significant advances that have been made in the system design technology for satellite heat protection since the inception of the Discoverer design are reviewed where applicable. The Discoverer heat protection system involved a minimum-weight, highly efficient, and reliable design for a vehicle that was exposed to an environment that cannot be completely reproduced in simulators and large-scale air arc facilities. Three significant phases are representative of the total environment to which the heat protection system was exposed ascent heating, sustained hard vacuum, and re-entry heating. Of the high-temperature materials for the heat protection system that were considered for this environment, the ablation approach was found most satisfactory for minimum weight and efficient, reliable design. Investigation of several classes of ablation materials showed that thermosetting plastics represented a practical design solution for re-entry satellite vehicles and that the effective heat of ablation concept is inadequate for accurate analysis of thermosetting plastic materials.
- Polymer Chemistry
- Fluid Mechanics
- Unmanned Spacecraft
- Spacecraft Trajectories and Reentry