Orion's precision LAKE landing at KSC
May 7, 2008

One year ago I've proposed my idea of Orioncopter to accomplish a precision Orion's land landing at KSC (to the same Shuttles' runway) using a set of Cushion Pads (that still is the BEST solution) to save on the weight and the risks of the (jettisonable TPS) Orion's landing airbags.

Probably the "Orioncopter" could be appeared a crazy idea, but, just a few months after my article, a reader of my website has sent me a mail with a link to a 2001-5 AIAA study about a similar idea (it's really incredible how close my design and the Hagen's concept are!) a very interesting and complete design that shows why idea was not so crazy... :)

Unfortunately, both "space-copters" may add some risks at landing and it's not sure they can help to save weight vs. the land landing's airbags system.

That's why in my Orion TPS article and in this ghostNASA article I've suggested to adopt the safe and light side-deployed parachutes combined with side-mounted airbags or side-landing jets.

However, there is a third original and smart solution to have a precision landing at KSC while avoid the salt water's Ocean landing (that may damage the Orion so it can't be reused) that is the precision (artificial) LAKE LANDING (always accomplished at KSC).

This kind of "lake landing" needs to add a couple of (small, cheap, easy to use and very light) electric-motors-driven PROPELLERS inside the Orion to be deployed at 3000 m. of altitude (just after the Orion's main parachutes are completely open) to allow a precision landing on land (with side-mounted airbags or side-landing jets) or (better) to one small (2 km. by 2 km. or less) ARTIFICIAL LAKE (then, WITHOUT salt water) build inside the KSC or near it, so, the Orion may accomplish a precision lake landing or (if one or both electric motors fail) an Apollo-like "abort mode" ocean landing.

What is very interesting in this idea is that, add a precision maneuvering and lake landing option to an Orion, doesn't cost so much money (probably just a few thousands dollar) and doesn't increase so much its weight, since, two small electric motors with two carbon fiber propellers, may weigh less than 100 kg. also, they can use the residual electric energy of the Orion's main electric batteries, then, NO extra-battery needed!

This is a sketch of a possible design of my idea of LAKE landing Orion with its propellers:

And this is it's landing profile, to be aborted to an ocean landing if a problem will occurs:

A possible option to the KSC's artificial lake landing, is to land the Orion on one of the existing US lakes like the Chicago's Lake Michigan.

[update] If, thanks to the two electric powered propellers, every Orion will be able to perform a very accurate high-precision land/lake landing at KSC, they may, also, use an ON LAND (hundreds times reusable) inflatable airbags landing system, like this:

Build a 4+ sq. miles artificial lake or inflatable landing base may appear too expensive... but, spend a few million$ to build them, itsn't a problem for NASA that usually spends in the range of dozens billion$$$ to just do some R&D (like the $10-14.4 Bn Ares-1 costs) and is going to spend (at least) $125 Bn (NASA evaluation) to $230 Bn (GAO evaluation) to develop and build the ESAS hardware and come back to the Moon... so, the price of a new lake (it doesn't matters if made of water or of hundreds airbags) is just a sand's grain for the NASA costs standards... :)

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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