FEASIBILITY OF A TRACTOR TYPE SELF-MANEUVERING UNIT.
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OHIO
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A small, unstablized, tractor type, self-maneuvering unit SMU is not considered a satisfactory vehicle for extravehicular travel in space. A pendulum analogy of flight does not prove a satisfactory method of analyzing the space flight characteristics of an unstablized system because of the pilots lack of a good reference system and thrust direction indicator. A space flight simulator study reveals that using pitching and yawing thrust to control the main thrust vector of a stablized SMU, the rendezvous with a t target over distances up to five hundred feet is a relatively simple maneuver. No reverse thrust is necessary to reduce terminal velocity because of the small velocity build-up in flight. However, when the conditions of offcenter thrust are simulated by providing a constant roll rate the percentage of hits on the target is reduced from a mean value of 90 to 17 moreover, the terminal velocity increases to the point where retro-thrust is needed to provide a safe landing. The tractor type SMU is a very risky method of transportation which requires a very skilled operator to obtain even minimum success. Author