Douglas Paracone personal orbital escape system of the 1960's
Douglas Paracone with the heat shield deployed
Douglas Bailout System Cutaway
American manned rescue spacecraft. Study 1963. The Douglas Paracone was one of the most minimal schemes for bail-out from orbit. The objective was to hit a continental land mass; for such purposes totally manual re-entry operations were used.
After separation from the spacecraft, the undeployed Paracone consisted of essentially the pilot in his seat, with a small solid retrorocket motor mounted on struts above the pilot's chest.
The astronaut would first roughly orient himself and the seat facing forward along the direction of orbital motion using cold gas thrusters. Then he would ignite the solid rocket motor. The motor had 18 seconds of low level 'vernier' thrust (9 kgf), during which time the pilot could correct its alignment using hand holds on the motor. It then went into 60 seconds of full thrust (44 kgf). The Paracone was designed to handle re-entry angles resulting from up to 30 degrees misalignment of the motor. Accuracy was within 800 km of the planned impact point.
After retrofire the empty motor was discarded and a large light-weight re-entry shell was deployed from the seat by gas pressure. The same gas supply was used for the reaction control thrusters. With a low ballistic coefficient the Paracone could be made of Rene-41 alloy fabric, with a Teflon coating. Heat loads were calculated to be within the heat rejection capacity of the astronaut's portable life support system. A ballistic re-entry followed, with a peak of 9.6 G's. No parachute was required. The terminal velocity of the Paracone was 42 km/hour and impact was absorbed by the crushable structure of the cap of the cone. The total mass of the Paracone system compared favorably with that of conventional ejection seats.
The mass breakdown was:
- Astronaut & Suit: 88.9 kg
- Seat & Restraints: 13.6 kg
- Survival Pack: 10.9 kg
- Life Support Pack: 13.6 kg
- Re-Entry Vehicle Structure: 56.7 kg
- Pressurization System: 6.8 kg
- Control System: 2.3 kg
- Retro Motor: 17.7 kg
- Retro Motor Mounts: 2.7 kg
- Ejection Motors: 4.5 kg
- Beacons: 5.0 kg
- Packaging Structure: 4.5 kg
- Total: 227.2 kg
Gross mass: 227 kg (500 lb).
More... - Chronology...
Unfuelled mass: 216 kg (476 lb).
Payload: 89 kg (196 lb).
Height: 1.00 m (3.20 ft).
Span: 7.62 m (24.99 ft).
Thrust: 431 N (96 lbf).
Specific impulse: 255 s.
Rescue In the early 1960's, in the hey-day of the X-20 Dynasoar, it seemed that the US military would naturally keep building military aerospacecraft that would just keep going higher and faster. It was also supposed that the pilot would have to be given the equivalent of an ejection seat - some means of bailing out of the spacecraft in case of catastrophic failure or enemy attack. More...
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
Douglas American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Boeing Huntington Beach, Huntington Beach, CA, USA. More...
Solid Solid propellants have the fuel and oxidiser embedded in a rubbery matrix. They were developed to a high degree of perfection in the United States in the 1950's and 1960's. In Russia, development was slower, due to a lack of technical leadership in the area and rail handling problems. Solid propellants have the fuel and oxidiser embedded in a rubbery matrix. They were developed to a high degree of perfection in the United States in the 1950's and 1960's. In Russia, development was slower, due to a lack of technical leadership in the area and rail handling problems. More...
Heitchure, R D, "Emergency Escape from a Space Station", AIAA Volume 16, AIAA Vol 16 Part 1 Page 680.
1963 October 9 -
- Douglas Paracone "flying carpet" escape system from orbital space stations. - .
Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Paracone. A 'flying carpet' escape system from orbital space stations had been proposed by Douglas Aircraft Company. The escape system would be a saucer shape that would expand into a blunt-nosed, cone- shaped vehicle 7.6 m across at its base. The vehicle would act as its own brake as it passed through the atmosphere. Reentry heating problems would be met by using fabrics woven with filaments of nickel-based alloys.
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