Aerodynamic Drag Reduction for Satellites in Low Earth Orbit

G. P. Cathcart and M. N. Macrossan (1993) Aerodynamic Drag Reduction for Satellites in Low Earth Orbit. AIAA Journal, 31 5: 826-831. doi:10.2514/3.11692

Author G. P. Cathcart
M. N. Macrossan
Title Aerodynamic Drag Reduction for Satellites in Low Earth Orbit
Journal name AIAA Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0001-1452
Publication date 1993-05
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2514/3.11692
Volume 31
Issue 5
Start page 826
End page 831
Total pages 6
Language eng
Subject 290207 Satellite, Space Vehicle and Missile Design
Abstract Stalker (AIAA Paper 87-0403) has suggested that, by ejecting molecules directly upstream from the entire face of a satellite, it is possible to reduce the drag on a satellite in low-Earth orbit and hence maintain orbit with a total fuel mass (for forward ejection and conventional reaction rockets) less than the typical mass requirements of conventional rockets. An analytical analysis is presented here, as well as Monte Carlo simulations. These indicate that to reduce the overall drag on the satellite significantly, collisions between the freestream and ejected molecules must occur at least two satellite diameters upstream. This can be achieved if the molecules are ejected far upstream from the satellite’s surface through a sting that projects forward from the satellite. Using some estimates of what would be feasible sting arrangements, we find that the drag on the satellite can be reduced to such an extent that the satellite’s orbit can be maintained with a total fuel mass of less than 60% of that required for reaction rockets alone. Upstream ejection is effective in reducing the drag for freestream Knudsen numbers less than approximately 250, but not otherwise.
Keyword DSMC
upstream injection
drag reduction
purging gas
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering Publications
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Created: Mon, 05 Feb 2007, 14:11:22 EST by Michael N Macrossan