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Rocket Program Science


Project Scientist, Sounding Rockets. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center ... 3. Rockets provide very low acceleration, disturbance rates relative to STS, ISS ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Rocket Program Science

Rocket Program Science
Space Science Advisory Committee NASA
Headquarters 12 August 2003 Robert
Pfaff Project Scientist, Sounding
Rockets NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Rocket Program -- General Remarks
  • For over 4 decades, the Sounding Rocket Program
    has been a jewel
  • in the crown of NASAs spaceflight
  • Program rests solidly on 3 critical elements
  • -- Unique, cutting edge science missions
  • -- Platform for the conception, testing, and
    development of new technology
  • -- Training ground for students, young
    researchers and engineers
  • Two important features of the program
  • -- Low Cost
  • -- Rapid, quick response

Sounding Rockets provide NASA with a new
generation of explorers
  • Program continues to be enormously popular with
    users in all Code S disciplines
  • Astronomy / Planetary / Solar / Geospace
  • Success of Program implementation is due to
    strong three-way partnership
    P.I. Wallops
    Flight Facility NASA HQ
  • P.I. is firmly in charge of the mission, from
    proposal to payload design to making the launch
    decision to the data analysis and publication of
  • Rocket program not only provides hands on
    experience, it generates
  • A new generation of explorers.

Sounding Rocket Mission Categories
  • Remote sensing (Telescopes)
  • Users UV Astronomy, X-Ray, Planetary, Solar
  • Main requirements/features
  • 1. Observing platform above earths atmosphere
  • 2. Fine pointing of payloads (sub arc second)
  • 3. Real-time, joy stick uplink command
    positioning available
  • 4. Payload recovery/reflight desired (launches
    are at White Sands)
  • 5. Southern Hemisphere launch location
    (Australia) used on campaign basis
  • 6. Ability to observe sources close to the sun
    (e.g., comets, Mercury, Venus)

Sounding Rocket Mission Categories
  • In situ measurements
  • Users Geospace (Magnetosphere, Ionosphere,
    Thermosphere, Mesosphere)
  • Main requirements/features
  • 1. Access to altitudes too low for satellite in
    situ sampling (25-120 km region)
  • 2. Vertical profiles of measured phenomena (cf.
    satellite horizontal profiles).
  • 3. Slow vehicle speeds enable new features to be
    resolved payloads dwell in regions of interest
  • 4. Launch into geophysical Targets of
    opportunity (e.g., aurora, cusp, thunderstorms,
    ionospheric turbulence at equator, noctilucent
    clouds, electrojets, metallic layers, etc.)
  • 5. Portability provides access to remote
    geophysical sites (high and low latitudes)
  • (Continued)

Sounding Rocket Mission Categories
  • In situ measurements
  • Main requirements/features (continued)
  • 6. Launches in conjunction with ground
    observations (e.g., radars, lidars, etc.)
  • 7. Multiple payloads (clusters) launched on
    single rocket
  • 8. Multiple, simultaneous launches (high and low
    apogees, different azimuths, etc.)
  • 9. Luminous trails to serve as tracers of
    geophysical parameters such as winds
  • 10. Flights in conjunction with orbital missions
    (e.g., Dynamics Explorer, TIMED)
  • 11. Tether capabilities (e.g., 2 km tethers
    between payloads have been flown)
  • 12. Collections of atmosphere samples (24
    underflights of UARS)

Sounding Rocket Mission Categories
  • Microgravity
  • Main requirements/features
  • 1. Long periods of zero-G relative to
    airplanes, drop towers
  • 2. Recovery usually required (launches are at
    White Sands)
  • 3. Rockets provide very low acceleration,
    disturbance rates relative to STS, ISS
  • Special projects
  • e.g., Aerobraking tests, technology
  • Education Initiatives
  • Over 350 Ph.Ds have completed thesis-based
    sounding rocket research
  • High school, undergraduate student launch
  • Science slides

New Directions at Wallops
  • High Altitude Sounding Rocket (see subsequent
  • Tailored Trajectories
  • Small Mesospheric Dart payloads
  • Improved sub-systems (e.g. fine pointing)
  • Technology Roadmap developed jointly by WFF and
    the Sounding Rocket Working Group

NASAs first Tailored TrajectoryUniversity of
Alaska (Conde) HEX Mission
  • The HEX project measured vertical winds by
    deploying a near-horizontal trail.
  • This required actively re-orienting the rocket
    prior to 3rd-stage ignition. This was a first
    for NASA.
  • HEX has demonstrated that this maneuver can be
    performed successfully. Capability is now
    available for the program.

High Altitude Sounding Rocket
1000 lbs. to 3000 km 40 min. observing time
40-50 inch diameter
High Altitude Sounding Rocket-- Astronomy /
Planetary / Solar
  • Increased hang time of 40 minutes and larger
    diameter ( 1 m) telescopes will provide greater
    sensitivity (e.g., observing extra-galactic and
    other faint objects become feasible) and higher
    angular resolution.
  • Longer observing times introduce
  • new class of experiments (e.g. IR Payloads that
    need to cool down)
  • ability to track temporal evolution of solar
  • larger number of targets to be observed on a
    given flight
  • Provides competitive observational capabilities
    not available on Hubble (e.g., rockets can carry
    out diffuse experiments, observe objects near
    the sun, such as Venus, Mercury, comets)

High Altitude Sounding Rocket-- Prototyping New
Astronomy Missions
  • Longer observing times allow new classes of low
    cost experiments
  • for prototyping new technology and carrying out
    exploratory science to
  • enable and validate the ambitious telescopes of
    the next millennium

High Altitude Sounding Rocket-- Geophysics
  • Ability to penetrate the aurora and cusp
    acceleration regions ( gt 2500 km), and linger
    within these regions at low velocities
  • Provides ability to observe high altitude regions
    with constellations of well-instrumented
  • Observe magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling
    resonances and wave interactions with periods of
    10s of minutes
  • Study inner radiation belt and slot region from
  • Observe evolution and impact of magnetic storms
    on mid-latitude geospace for considerably longer
  • Instrumentation testing (e.g., high velocity
    environment during re-entry in lower ionosphere
    provides for GEC prototype tests).

High Altitude Sounding Rocket-- Other
  • Microgravity Experiments
  • 40 minutes of ideal micro-gravity environment
    (without vibrations common on human-tendered
    platforms such as ISS and Shuttle)
  • Provides for considerably larger and longer
    combustion experiments
  • Planetary Engineering
  • Re-entry testing
  • Aerobraking
  • Smart landers
  • Aero-capture

High Altitude Sounding Rocket-- Technical and
  • Capability
  • 1000 lbs. to 3000 km altitude
  • Approximately 40 minute of observation time after
  • High re-entry velocities
  • 40-50 inch payload diameter
  • Recovery capabilities to be included
  • Commercial motors and hardware with in-house
    (NSROC) integration
  • FY 04 (3.0M) and FY 05 (3.0M)
  • Will fund the first demonstration flight
  • Goal 1000 lbs to 3000 km for 5M (includes
    rocket, nose cone, payload subsystems, operations)

Rocket Program-- Issues Concerns
  • In the last 4 years, number of Code S flights has
    diminished, compared to historical levels.
  • Planetary rocket program has been discontinued
    despite rave reviews and strong recommendations
    of Decadal Survey.
  • Although program funding is on more solid ground
    than a few years ago, promised 6M ramp-up in
    FY06 must come through.
  • High Altitude Sounding Rocket funds have been
    requested in next years budget to start this
    initiative -- seek support of advisory

Code S missions do not include microgravity,
reimbursable, test, and student launches.
Inguide Budget
Overguide Budget Request(Summary)
Current MembershipNASA Sounding Rocket Working
GroupJune, 2003
Chair Dr. Robert F. Pfaff, NASA/GSFC Planetary
Atmospheres Dr. Walter Harris, University of
Wisconsin Visible/UV Astronomy Dr. James Green,
University of Colorado, Boulder Dr. Tim Cook,
Boston University High Energy Astrophysics Dr.
Dan McCammon, University of Wisconsin Solar
Physics Dr. Doug Rabin, NASA/GSFC
Plasma Physics Dr. James LaBelle, Dartmouth
College Dr. Mark Conde, University of
Alaska Ionosphere/Thermosphere/Mesosphere Dr.
Chuck Swenson, Utah State University Dr. Lynette
Gelinas, Cornell University Dr. Gerald
Lehmacher, Clemson University Microgravity (Vac
Current MembershipNASA Sounding Rocket Working
GroupJune, 2003