Sailing through the sixties 19611969

Whither, O splendid ship, thy white sails crowding That fearest nor sea rising, nor sky clouding, Whither away, fair rover, and what thy quest In 1961 a clear ocean of scientific research seemed to have opened up, ready to sail into and explore. The climate seemed set fair too. This optimism -fearing ' nor sea rising, nor sky clouding' - was justified by events the 1960s proved to be a decade of fairly easy achievement, exploiting techniques already devised. The RAE research on the upper...

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Form of the second to fifth zonal harmonics. The sections shown are slices through the poles and the shapes give variations with latitude, averaged over all longitudes. The second harmonic corresponds to the Earth's flattening, the third expresses the 'pear-shape' effect, the fourth harmonic is square-shaped, the fifth has five 'petals', and so on. and so on. The theoretical effects of odd zonal harmonics on orbits were calculated by Robin Merson and Rex Plimmer early in 1958 so, by...

The prediction service

Our methods of prediction were based on those devised by the RGO we merely made a few refinements when we took over. The weekly predictions for Sputnik 3 rocket (and previously for Sputnik 2) were of course graphical rather than computerized, and consisted of three items (1) A map of part of the Northern Hemisphere (issued only once, unless the recipient lost the original). (2) A transparent track diagram, issued once a fortnight, to fit over the map and fixed to it by a drawing-pin through the...

Info

Values of inclination for Ariel 3 at 15th-order resonance, with fitted arose by chance, during a ' routine' orbit determination by Bob Gooding from Minitrack observations of the UK satellite Ariel 3, made for the benefit of the scientists whose experiments were aboard. On plotting out the values of orbital inclination, he found a remarkable decrease, between mid December 1967 and mid March 1968, of about 0.02 , equivalent to about 2 km in distance and much larger than the likely...

Satellites at last

'Lift-off' eventually came in the summer of 1955, when F. E. Jones asked for a study of a satellite for reconnaissance. The autumn of 1955 was devoted chiefly to this project (though work continued on the abortive missile designs). In our report,2 issued in January 1956, we proposed a satellite of 2000 pounds mass, and made design studies for a two-stage launcher, with half an eye on the Blue Streak missile then in its early phases of development. Like Blue Streak, the proposed satellite...

St Stage Propulsion

Sectional drawing of the Black Arrow satellite launcher. The weight at launch was 18000 kg, the maximum diameter 2 m and the height 13.2 m. A 100 kg satellite could be launched into a circular orbit at 500 km height. of Blue Streak left it stranded like a whale. In the mid 1960s the decision was taken (by whom I am not sure) to build a satellite launcher at minimum cost by utilizing the proven Black Knight propulsion system of four Rolls-Royce Gamma rocket motors burning kerosene...

The orbit of Sputnik

These initiatives on radio tracking were excellent, but how were the results to be used to determine the orbit And we needed the orbit in days, not months. By another slice of luck in timing, a digital computer called Pegasus had recently been installed at the RAE. It could make 500 multiplications per second, about 5000 times faster than our existing unprogrammable hand-calculating machines, and was under the command of Robin Merson, who was most skilled in the new art of computing. He at once...

The tracking of Sputnik

Sputnik 1 was famous for its 'bleep', produced by a powerful radio transmitter operating at 20.005 MHz and 40.002 MHz, and powered by chemical batteries. Indeed this was virtually the only instrumentation of Sputnik 1, and very effective it was in announcing the new era of space flight. These strong signals gave radio scientists the chance to take the lead in tracking the satellite. The first and most obvious technique is just to listen in and measure the change in frequency due to the Doppler...

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The variation of atmospheric rotation rate A with height for evening, morning and average conditions,20 based on 44 results. Fig. 5.9. The variation of atmospheric rotation rate A with height for evening, morning and average conditions,20 based on 44 results. and inexact, but was good enough to clarify the situation. The ' average' curve shows A increasing from about 1.0 at 150 km to about 1.3 at 350 km (which corresponds to a west-to-east wind of about 120 m s), and then declining...

On the shelf 19801988

And when they were only half way up, They were neither up nor down. A rocket fired up the north face of the Eiger towards the summit might serve as a suitable simile for the worldly aspects of my career in science. From 1957 until about 1970 the upward thrust was strong, and the rocket seemed on course for the stratosphere. During the 1970s the propellant seemed to burn out and the momentum decreased. About 1980 the rocket came to rest on a rather precarious shelf, half way up the cliff there...

Orbits about the oblate Earth

After this digression on orbital elements, I can return to the work early in 1957 with Doreen Gilmore on 'The effect of the Earth's oblateness on the orbit of a near satellite', to quote the title of the completed report, which was issued as RAE Technical Note GW 475 in October 1957. The analysis was successful largely because of an arbitrary - but, as it turned out, very fruitful - assumption about orders of magnitude. The gravitational pull on a satellite near the Earth is altered by up to 1...

Prelude to space 19531957

And gazing burns with unallow'd desires. Erasmus Darwin, The Loves of the Plants It was in 1953 that the metamorphosis of missiles into satellites began. One important new start was the prospect of rockets for upper-atmosphere research. The impetus came from a group of scientists belonging to the Royal Society's Gassiot Committee, particularly Professor Harrie Massey of University College London, and Professor David Bates of the Queen's University, Belfast. The existence of the Gassiot...

References

Gilmore, RAE Technical Notes GW 332, 355, 376, 417 and 438 1954-57 . 2 D. G. King-Hele and D. M. C. Gilmore, 'Preliminary assessment of an earth satellite reconnaissance vehicle', RAE Technical Note GW 393 January 1956 . 3 D. G. King-Hele and D. M. C. Walker, Vistas in Astronomy, 30, 269-289 1987 . 4 D. G. King-Hele and D. M. C. Gilmore, RAE Technical Note GW 455 May 1957 . 5 R. H. Gooding, RAE Technical Report 88068 1988 . 1 Staff of RAE, Nature, 180, 937-941...

Position Op Moons Sphere Of Influence When Vehicle Leaves

Mirror Reflection Lench

-POSITION OF MOON'S SPHERE OF INFLUENCE WHEN VEHICLE ENTERS Fig. 4.2. Diagram showing how the Moon's attraction can be exploited to enable a spacecraft to escape from the Earth's influence. The spacecraft needs to pass just behind the Moon to achieve the maximum effect - an additional velocity of But a more important RAE contribution to the conference came from Harry Hiller, whom I have not yet mentioned. He began working with me on the missile design studies in 1953, but was not immediately...

Prologue 19481953

The morning was sunny and serene, the day was Monday 12 September 1948, and I was travelling by train to begin a new life working at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough in Hampshire. As the steam-engine puffed along the last few miles from Guildford to the curiously-named North Camp station, I had no idea what was in store, never having ventured into Hampshire before unnecessary travel had been frowned on during the Second World War . During the previous two years I had been working...