Another "developed internally..." idea from NASA
April 14, 2008

Last year, the Orion's land landing option was scrapped from the plan to save over 1.5 mT of mass from the "overweighted" current Orion design, leaving only the sea landing option for all Orion missions... but, now, NASA has developed a "new" and "original" idea to restore the land landing option... just add a SIDE-MOUNTED AIRBAG to the Orion.

side-mounted airbags image © NASA

But... this "new" idea "developed internally" by NASA, remembers me "something" I've already seen "somewhere" on the web about 14 MONTHS AGO... YES, I'm right, since it's pretty close to MY Orion's "sidewalls mounted airbags" landing system proposed in my (February 27, 2007) article about "The VERY dangerous Orion's TPS".

Then, it's VERY HARD to claim that THIS idea WAS already "developed internally" and (maybe) "many years ago" since, until this week the ONLY Orion's landing system was the version explained 2.5 years ago in the ESAS plan (with the landing airbags inside the jettisoned TPS) while my article is older than a week... 14 MONTHS OLD, to be exact... unfortunately, they'll never admit this nor acknowledge the real author of this idea...

The only difference between the NASA side-mounted airbags vs. MY design (born 14 months before) is that the NASA version is much more complex and unreliable (then more dangerous) than MY design since (as shown in the NASA image published here) it uses a complex system made around FOUR small airbags that must be inflated and "should" rotate around the TPS (to be in the "right position" for the land landing) then, with a very high probability that something will not work well in this woozily process and the astronauts will face a very hard (if not lethal) land landing!

Seeing the NASA image, it's still unclear (so far) if they want to use this very complex version of MY side-mounted airbags' idea, to perform a vertical TPS-side land landing using several "four balls" each airbags inflated around the TPS border or (worse) they want to perform something like an "angled landing" using just one "four balls" airbag.

Whichever is the plan, they already admit that, their version of side-mounted airbags, combined with parachutes deployed from the Orion's top, should be "unstable" then may need the (very complex I believe) action of the Orion's attitude controls thrusters to perform a correct and safe land landing (if ALL the airbags will be deployed, inflated and rotated in the right way, of course...) then, it seems a very complex landing system!

That's why, in my "The VERY dangerous Orion's TPS" article and in the (August 7, 2007) update to my "EASY ways to CUT the Orion's weightarticle I've suggested to adopt also the side-deployed parachutes combined with side-mounted airbags or landing jets.

And, to have a much safer (land or sea) side-landing system, I've, also, suggested to adopt four "shock absorbing" seats with a longer vertical excursion.

While discussing of my idea on a space forum, just one forum user said that, this kind of side-landing could be more dangerous for the astronauts' spinal bones than the old ("classic") horizontal (Apollo-like) TPS-side capsule landing.

If that's true, a possible, further, solution to have the side-mounted airbags (or jets) the side-deployed parachutes and perform a side-landing on land, is to adopt a new kind of "movable seats" that can be oriented to the right and safer position at launch (a) at TLI burning (b) of the lunar convoy (to avoid the "eye balls out" risks) and at the side-landing on land (c) that's possible thanks to the Orion's larger internal volume.

However, a furher landing system on land (without the TPS-mounted or side-mounted airbags or jets) may use six, eight or more "extensible cushion pads", as suggested in my (April 22, 2007) "Possible an Orioncopter?" article, to save mass and perform a safe landing on land (maybe, near or inside the KSC).

If you find my "Orioncopter" a crazy idea, just think, that a very similar concept, was developed years ago in an AIAA study that a reader of my website and blog has sent me time ago (and of which I will soon publish an image and the link to the .pdf document).

[update] The latest Soyuz-TMA11 mission have had a 20 min. delay at reentry, landing about 500 km. away from the planned land site so, the astronauts experinced a -10G deceleration force!

The same contingency could happen with the Orion, so, I think that it MUST have (also) a land landing option built-in, but, made with a design that doesn't add too much weight nor needs a dangerous jettisonable TPS.

Just imagine that Orion will have ONLY the sea landing option... and that one of them is planned to land in the Atlantic ocean near KSC (to have a faster and cheaper retrieval of the capsule) ...but it has a Soyuz-TMA11-like delay/slippage... so, it goes to land near Orlando... that's why I suggest to adopt MY safe and light Orion land landing concept.

If you talk/discuss about this idea on forums, blogs, websites, magazines, newspapers
please acknowledge the source of the idea, putting a link to my article. Thank You.

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