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Laboratory Instruction In Undergraduate Astronautics

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Conference

1999 Annual Conference

Location

Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999

ISSN

2153-5965

Page Count

11

Page Numbers

4.355.1 - 4.355.11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/7800

Download Count

40

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Paper Authors

author page

Christopher Hall

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2302

Laboratory Instruction in Undergraduate Astronautics

Christopher D. Hall Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Introduction

One significant distinction between the “standard” educational programs in aeronautical and astro- nautical engineering is the extent to which experimental methods are incorporated into the curricu- lum. The use of wind tunnels and their many variations is firmly established in the aeronautical engineering curricula throughout the United States. In astronautical engineering, however, there do not appear to be any standard experimental facilities in wide use. This is understandable, given the unique environment in which spacecraft operate; however, there are several facilities which could fill this role, some of which are already in place at universities with a strong space emphasis. The purpose of this paper is to describe some of these facilities and their uses in teaching undergraduate astronautics.

We begin by describing the topics in astronautics that are distinct from other topics in aerospace engineering. We then describe a variety of field exercises and laboratories that can be used to enrich the teaching of astronautics. These exercises focus on satellite “observation,” both visually and using amateur radio receivers. Additional laboratories described include a Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics and Control Simulator, and a “design, build, and fly” project to be launched in late 2001.

Topics in Astronautics

Some topics in aerospace engineering, such as structures, are common to both aeronautics and astronautics, so that related laboratories benefit both parts of the curriculum. There are however some space-specific topics that typically have no laboratory component, primarily related to the motion of spacecraft. Satellite motion is a complicated combination of the orbital motion of the satellite around the earth and the attitude, or pointing, motion of the satellite platform. The overall motion is affected by gravity, controlled thrusters, material outgassing, motion of internal compo- nents of the satellite, solar radiation pressure, atmospheric drag, and other forces. The study of satellite dynamics and control is typically divided into astrodynamics and attitude dynamics, with additional applied material on spacecraft design.

Kepler (1571–1630) and Newton (1642–1727) laid the foundations for the subject of astrodynam- ics as it is taught today. Kepler’s three laws were formulated from curve-fitting of the carefully recorded astronomical observations of Tycho Brahe (1546–1601):

1. The orbit of each planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one focus.

2. The line joining the planet to the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times.

Hall, C. (1999, June), Laboratory Instruction In Undergraduate Astronautics Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. https://peer.asee.org/7800

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