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Flight Dynamics and Simulation of Laser Propelled Lightcraft

[+] Author Affiliations
Christopher G. Ballard, Kurt S. Anderson, Leik N. Myrabo

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Paper No. DETC2007-35660, pp. 27-34; 8 pages
  • ASME 2007 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5: 6th International Conference on Multibody Systems, Nonlinear Dynamics, and Control, Parts A, B, and C
  • Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 4–7, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4806-X | eISBN: 0-7918-3806-4


A seven degree-of-freedom (DOF) dynamic model was developed to provide insight into the flight behavior of Type 200 and other related Lightcraft, and to serve as a research tool for developing future engine-vehicle configurations for laser launching of nano-satellites (1–10+ kg). Accurate engine, beam, and aerodynamics models are included to improve the predictive capability of the 7-DOF code. The aerodynamic forces of lift, drag, and aerodynamic pitching moment were derived from Fluent computational fluid dynamics predictions, and calibrated against limited existing wind tunnel data. To facilitate 7-DOF model validation, simulation results are compared with video analysis of actual flights under comparable conditions. Despite current limitatations of the 7-DOF model, the results compared well with experimental flight trajectory data.



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