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Skylab Experiment

AE415 Course Assignment

Submitted by
Pratik Babhulkar
140100013

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Contents
1
Abstract
2
Objective of mission
3
Solution Explaination
Ascent Mission Design
Graphical Data
4
Ascent Mission Parameters
5
Basic Orbital Parameters
6
Anomalies and Failures

ABSTRACT
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA and was the United
States' first space station. Skylab orbited Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a
workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It faced some problems during the
launch which were recovered by manned missions. Many experiments were performed on
this station. It was thought that this station can be used as a starting point of lunar and
other interplanetary missions. Skylabs demise was an international media event. Its
uncontrolled re-entry in the atmosphere ended the mission. I have tried to solve the launch
problem of Skylab station in very basic way and have compared the actual trajectory
parameters with the parameters I designated.

Objective of mission
The Saturn V rocket was used to place the Saturn Work Shop (SWS) in nearly circular
earth orbit at an altitude of 442km and inclined 50 to the equator. The launch vehicle was
comprised of the S- IC-13, S-II-13. These were the two stages. SWS was modified third stage
of the Saturn V.
The objectives of the mission included
Studying the sun from solar observatory in orbit around the sun
Performing different scientific experiments in zero gravity environment
Studying Earth using earth resources experiment package
Thousands of photographs were taken (of Earth) in visible, infrared and ultraviolet
regions.
Numerous experiments were performed.

Solution Explanation
Saturn V was used to launch the Skylab Staion into the orbit. It was launched on May
14 , 1973 from Kennedy Space Center from the launch pad LC-39A. The aim was to put the
SWS Saturn Workshop in a near circular orbit around the earth. (Low Earth Orbit). Saturn
V was modified and was used as a two stage rocket. The actual parameters are given below
in table. The stage two S-II, after separating from the SWS (Stage 2-payload separation) was
put into an elliptical orbit and their further contact with SWS was restricted. The
parameters of S-II orbit are also given below.
th

Ascent Mission Design:


I designed the ascent mission using basic trajectories. The plan was to start from the
altitude, velocity and inclination required to be achieved at the point of injection of the
station (Payload). The parameters were finally decided to be, injection velocity=7648 m/s
with inclination parallel to the local horizon and altitude was decided to be 442 km from
earth. For proceeding with the solution I assumed the earth to be spherical with radius
6378.165 km.

Idea was to design the trajectory way back from injection point to the launch pad. I
started by designing stage 2 (S-II) parameters first. I fixed the initial inclination to be 60 for
the S-II and velocities equal to actual velocities. Then I worked out solutions for altitude,
velocity, inclination as the function of time.
After that I started with the stage 1 (SC-I) solution with proper linking between SC-I
and S-II.
Using simple constant pitch rate approach is less practical. It is not done in real. So, I
decided to go with constant specific thrust solutions. I used this approach for stage-2 and
stage-1. While I used simple vertical linear motion for initial part of stage-1 and used the
appropriate approach. Each stage solution was worked out again for gravity corrections.
The average gravity model was used for this purpose. The solution was found out by
iterating till a certain accuracy is reached.
I decided not to use any orbital manoeuvres for the final injection in the orbit. The
final parameters were meet directly using the launch vehicle. This strategy is highly
sensitive to errors. I have also considered flat earth approximation while arriving at the
solution. So, the considerations of rotating gravity vector were not taken into account. The
stage separation and engine ignition times were assumed negligible and were not taken
into account.
The stage-wise data is presented graphically below.

Altitude vs Time (Stage-1)

Altitude vs time (S-II)

Altitude vs Time (Total)

Velocity vs Time (Stage-1)

Velocity vs Time (Stage-2)

Velocity vs Time (total)

Trajectory shape (Stage-1)


(Initial part vertical ascent and then gravity turn with specific thrust being constant)

Trajectory shape (Stage-2) (Gravity turn)

Trajectory shape (Total)

Ascent mission Parameters


The launch vehicle used was modified Saturn V. It was a 2 stage vehicle and the
details are given below. I kept the fuel parameters constant while changed the mass
properties of the launch vehicle according to the solution.
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Parameter
Liftoff Mass( )
Starting mass of Stage 2 (
)
Payload mass
Structure Mass (
)
Structure Mass(
)
Isp_1
Isp_2
Burn Time_Stage1
Burn Time_Stage2
Altitude Reached in stage 1
Altitude in Stage 2
Velocity at burnout Stage-1
Velocity at burnout Stage-2
Inclination at burnout Stage-1
Inclination at burnout Stage-2

Actual Value
2856423 kg
582260 kg
89439 kg
162365 kg
55166 kg
263 sec
421 sec
159.9 sec
430.6 sec
87.3 km
442 km
2789.1 m/s
7648.2 m/s
59.549
90.002

Value in my Solution
4312600 kg
611986 kg
89439 kg
162365 kg
55166 kg
263 sec
421 sec
194.81 sec
289.47 sec
175.19 km
442 km
2789.1 m/s
7648.2 m/s
60.0
90.0

The parameters specific to my trajectory are given in following table;


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Parameter
Linear ascent altitude
Linear ascent Velocity achieved
Initial tilt for starting gravity turn
Starting velocity for gravity turn
Stage1-2 separation altitude
Stage2-payload separation altitude
Injection velocity

Value
144m
30m/s
2.225
30m/s
175.19km
442 km
7648.2 m/s

Basic Orbital Parameters


The aim was to put the SWS in circular orbit. So the eccentricity shown below is close
to 0. Time period of the orbit was approximately 93 min.
The actual data is given below. The data for my solution is analysed and shown below
it.

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Parameter
Value/Explanation
Inclination of Orbit
50.03
Descending Node
153.252
Eccentricity
0.0002
Appogee Altitude
433.8 km
Perigee Altitude
431.5 km
Time Period of the orbit
93.23 min
Table: Orbital Parameters of the SWS (just after launch)

These are the actual orbital parameters just after the launch was performed. These
were calculated with assumption that
The launch vehicle used was modified version of Saturn V. The third stage of the
launch vehicle was modified into SWS. Thus the launch vehicle was two stage Saturn V with
SWS as the payload. The stage 2 (S-II) was separated and put into another elliptical orbit to
avoid any further contact between in SWS and S-II. The orbital parameters of SII are given
below.
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Parameter
Value/Explanation
Inclination of Orbit
50.068
Right Ascension of Node (True of date)
25.605
Eccentricity
0.005247
Appogee Radius
6821.7 km
Perigee Radius
6750.5 km
Time Period of the orbit
92.7 min
Semi Major Axis
6786.1 km
Argument of Perigee
-122.18
True Anomaly
-57.82
Table: Orbital Parameters of S-II after 6 hours of SWS- S-II separation

These are the actual parameters. While, according to my solution, the parameters
will be as follows.

As the required velocity is less, this will put the space station in slightly elliptical orbit.
The burn rate data are attached in the MATLAB files. The burn rate for vertical ascent part
is 20899 kg/s which is practically not possible. But, keeping other variables as close to actual

variables as possible, makes this problem arise. Other burn rates for the gravity turn are
attached in the files.

Anomalies and Failures


This skylab staion became famous for its uncontrolled re-entry on July 11th, 1979. It
remained in orbit for approximately 6 years. It was supposed to stay there for longer period.
Before re-entry, the NASA focused on the debris not landing in populated area. The station
didnt burn up as fast as NASA expected.
This failure is thought to be originated from an anomaly which occurred during
ascent mission. Launch vehicle experienced unusual disturbances during 63 nd 593 seconds
of the ascent mission. At first disturbance, the orbital work shops meteoroid shield
structurally failed and solar array system wing unlatched. At 593 seconds, the wing was torn
off at the hinge due to impingement from the S-II Retro plumes during payload injection.
The skylab station lost its ability to protect itself from solar radiation which affects
the trajectory/orbit on long term effects. During manned missions, they tried to fix this
problem, but it didnt work the way NASA expected and resulted in an uncontrolled reentry.