Space Capsule Using Energy of Gravitational Field for Flight Control

This paper presents a space capsule which uses energy of gravitational field of Earth for flight control. This capsule can be used for current transportation between Earth and International Space Station (ISS) or the future space hotels. The Space Shuttle was considered for three decades the best solution for transportation of materials and crews to Earth’s orbits and back. However, reality has shown that the space shuttles are extremely expensive vehicles both to be built and maintained than the classic rockets and space capsules. In addition, the reliability of space shuttle as transportation mean was proved to be under reliability of classic mean represented by rocket + space capsule. These facts brought again to life the classic rocket and capsule. Specialists estimate today that over the next 50-100 years, rockets and space capsules will be the main transportation means to space and back to Earth. On the other hand, it is estimated that transportation needs between Earth surface and Earth orbit will increase due to increasing of frequency of transports to the International Space Station and developing of the new commercial branch of space tourism. At present there are already announcements that national and private space stations and space hotels will be built in the next years on Earth orbit. The increased traffic between orbit and the Earth's surface will raise difficult problems related by cost and safety. It will be really very costly as re-entry of tens of capsules to be assisted day and night by large control teams of scientists located on Earth as in the present. It is expected as the transportation capacity of a capsule to increase to 5-7 places or more and crews to have a more important role in manoeuvring of space capsule. The new space capsules should be much improved in order to accomplish these new transportation requirements. The space capsule proposed in this paper is advanced space equipment able to face the future challenges generated by the increasing of space traffic. The new capsule is braking in atmosphere as the classic one using ablative layers and parachute. In addition the new capsule has two extendable symmetric self-rotating plates which can be used to create additional lift and manoeuvring of capsule. The plates are telescopically folded inside the space capsule. These plates can rotate independently in bearings fixed by capsule structure. After the capsule speed is reduced by parachute, the plates are extended progressively. Due to Mouillard effect, the plates begin to rotate and an aerodynamic force square to direction of capsule speed appears. This force is decomposed in a vertical force (lift force) and tangential force which is a traction force as in the case of a glider. These forces are used both for reduction of capsule descending speed and for capsule manoeuvring. The capsule manoeuvring can be done easily if for example the length of the left side plate is reduced in comparison with the length of the right side plate. Experiments done at low scale shows that capsule turns in this case to left. Another possibility is to create symmetric holes in the both plates. The both holes are closed by sliding covers. When for example the cover begins to open hole of right plate while the hole of left plate is still closed, the experiments show that the capsule turns to right. The descending speed of capsule can be controlled by means of plates’ length. If the length of plates increases, the lift force increases and descending speed decreases and vice-versa. Such a capsule can even land on a regular tarmac because the descending speed and flight direction can be controlled by means of the length of plates. Another important advantage of the new type of capsule is that the two plates constitute a backup for parachute. In the case of a classic capsule, if the parachute does not open, the capsule and crew are completely lost. In the case of the new type of capsule, if the parachute fails to open, the plates are progressively extended and the capsule is braked by the drag produced by the Mouillard effect while the lift produced by the same effect Mouillard changes the capsule trajectory in a gliding one. Thus, the capsule begins to fly like glider, can be maneuvered like a glider and can land on a regular tarmac. In this case, although the breaking force created by plates is smaller than the braking force created by a parachute, the trajectory is much lengthened and the breaking of capsule in air is done in a longer time.