NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Vehicle Dynamics due to Magnetic Launch PropulsionThe field of Magnetic Levitation Lind Propulsion (MagLev) has been around for over 30 years, primarily in high-speed rail service. In recent years, however, NASA has been looking closely at MagLev as a possible first stage propulsion system for spacecraft. This approach creates a variety of new problems that don't currently exist with the present MagLev trains around the world. NASA requires that a spacecraft of approximately 120,000 lbs be accelerated at two times the acceleration of gravity (2g's). This produces a greater demand on power over the normal MagLev trains that accelerate at around 0.1g. To be able to store and distribute up to 3,000 Mega Joules of energy in less than 10 seconds is a technical challenge. Another problem never addressed by the train industry and, peculiar only to NASA, is the control of a lifting body through the acceleration of and separation from the MagLev track. Very little is understood about how a lifting body will react with external forces, Such as wind gusts and ground effects, while being propelled along on soft springs such as magnetic levitators. Much study needs to be done to determine spacecraft control requirements as well as what control mechanisms and aero-surfaces should be placed on the carrier. Once the spacecraft has been propelled down the track another significant event takes place, the separation of the spacecraft from the carrier. The dynamics involved for both the carrier and the spacecraft are complex and coupled. Analysis of the reaction of the carrier after losing, a majority of its mass must be performed to insure control of the carrier is maintained and a safe separation of the spacecraft is achieved. The spacecraft angle of attack required for lift and how it will affect the carriage just prior to separation, along with the impacts of around effect and aerodynamic forces at ground level must be modeled and analyzed to define requirements on the launch vehicle design. Mechanisms, which can withstand the expected forces and allow the spacecraft to separate at the desired time must be developed. Modeling and analysis of the full-scale system must be developed to derive the requirements for design of the separation mechanisms. A description of several MagLev demonstrators will be presented and the testing and analysis to model the demonstrators will be included.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Galaboff, Zachary J. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Jacobs, William (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
West, Mark E. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Montenegro, Justino
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2000
Subject Category
Mechanical Engineering
Meeting Information
Advances in Navigation and Control Technology Workshop(Redstone Arsenal, AL)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.