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Thread: Design of Planes/Spacecraft.

  1. #1 Design of Planes/Spacecraft. 
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    I wasn't sure where to post this question but decided on the Astronomy sub forum.
    Are there any studies in science/engineering which suggest that the conventional "flying saucer" shape is likely to be used for planes and/or spacecraft in the future.


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    Planes are designed for low resistance as they go through an atmosphere. Rockets built on Earth have to go through the same atmosphere before they can reach space. Also the present shape works well with the rocket form of propulsion.

    An unknown form of propulsion may work well with different shapes, especially if there are constraints on generation of power, energy fields, etc.

    There has been things seen on radar screens which have been seen to move at 9,000 mph then do a sudden right angle turn. Even if we could build a craft which would somehow do this, the occupants would end up as a red smear on the inside of the craft.

    Some SF spacecraft use an inertialess drive where every atom of the ship and contents are sped up or slowed down at the same time so beings inside would feel no acceleration at any speed or be affected by a sudden turn. Doc Smith had this sort of space craft a good part of a century ago where a spacecraft essentially separated from the universe only needed to shine a torch out back and would instantly be travelling in the opposite direction at light speed. Allowing for the field, the craft would be any shape. But when in later adventures the crafts travelled at huge multiples of light speed, they had to become streamlined because though space is almost empty with only a few atoms per cc of space, it was like going through a dense atmosphere to them at their speeds.

    Basically at present we do not have a clue as to how to break the light barrier, so cannot have any idea of what such a craft would look like. We will possibly in the future hollow out asteroids and use them for long space voyages (maybe centuries) to nearby stars and their shape would not really matter.


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    There are any number of proposed aircraft designs that use a flying wing structure. In these, there is no fusilage and tail. Just a giant wing. The wing is thick enough through for passengers to sit and even walk around inside the wing. Obviously this gives a lot more space for people and cargo. This type of design is perfectly feasible, and it is extremely likely we will see flying wing aircraft in the future.

    However flying saucers are unlikely. The nearest such I have seen is a small, car sized design, in which propellers were inserted inside the fusilage pointing downwards to provide helicopter type upthrust, and other propellers pointed back for forward thrust. The downward propellers would rotate in different directions to provide rotational stability. This design is apparently also feasible, but rather inefficient in terms of fuel consumption, and would never be more than a 'toy'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    There are any number of proposed aircraft designs that use a flying wing structure. In these, there is no fusilage and tail. Just a giant wing. The wing is thick enough through for passengers to sit and even walk around inside the wing. Obviously this gives a lot more space for people and cargo. This type of design is perfectly feasible, and it is extremely likely we will see flying wing aircraft in the future.
    NASA and Boeing seem to be taking this one quite seriously:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-48
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    There are any number of proposed aircraft designs that use a flying wing structure. In these, there is no fusilage and tail. Just a giant wing. The wing is thick enough through for passengers to sit and even walk around inside the wing. Obviously this gives a lot more space for people and cargo. This type of design is perfectly feasible, and it is extremely likely we will see flying wing aircraft in the future.
    NASA and Boeing seem to be taking this one quite seriously:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-48
    I've probably got it wrong but, for me, these designs appear to be a variation on the delta wing structure.
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    Halliday.

    You may be right. The idea of the flying wing is to get rid of that inefficient cigar fusilage, and gain the benefit of all the space inside the wing. The shape of a flying wing can be anything from a delta triangle, to a boomerang.

    A major problem is swift exit in the case of an emergency. Inside a flying wing, a lot of people will be sitting well away from any exit. I am not sure how they will get around that one.
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    I have had alot of time on my hands and have theorized several designs for possible space crafts.

    one of my favorites is shaped like a tall thin egg, the inner decks would wrap in layers on the inside. occupants would be walking with their heads pointed towards the center of the ship with their feet pointing outwards.
    the ship would be in constant spin causing inertia which would pull the people outwards simulating gravity.
    A perfect paradox
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    zazz

    That is a fairly ambitious design. For your spinning egg to work, it would have to be rather enormous. Possibly something like that may be the first to go to the stars in 500 to 1000 years.

    In the shorter term, for a trip to Mars, I would propose a triple pod design. A central pod shaped like a cigar, to carry stores, fuel and the ion drive motors. From this pod would extend two tubes, directly opposite each other. At the end of those tubes would be the two pods carrying living quarters. The whole thing spins for gravity so that the two outer pods rotate around the central cigar. There would also be zero gravity work space in the central cigar.

    This craft would be built in space. It would carry a Mars lander on its nose, and would never experience a gravity well.

    Radiation is still a terrible problem. To shield astronauts from potentially lethal radiation during a long voyage would be difficult. Something like ten metres thickness of water ice would do the trick, but this might be too much to carry. There is some talk of using magnetic fields to deflect harmful radiation, but we do not have that technology as yet.
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    Forum Freshman zazzerak's Avatar
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    I do not mean to ridicule your design in any way but what will you use for power?
    you mentioned Ion drives but that is a broad term and should be specified.

    For my design I was thinking of several nuclear fusion reactors located in a ring along the outside of the hull allowing for both power generation as well as propulsion.
    The nuclear fusion drives would collect space matter, (floating debris) and convert it into a fissionable material as well as having stores of Safeguarded Uranium aboard the ship. minor trajectory adjustments would be produced by jetting out gaseous bi product from the nuclear reactors.
    Life support would consist mostly of Algae vats that would recycle the air, and the algae could be reconstituted into a variety of food products.
    The ship would be built in space, as I should have mentioned before.
    I'm sorry about being vague of the ships design before but I Was in a rush.


    I have also been toying with the Idea of "Launching" a ship outside of space and time to reemerge in a different location, since they would be leaving space and time so the trip would be instenteaneous. this is a very futuristic goal and no technology of the kind is even conceivable in our time.
    A perfect paradox
    "This statement is false."
    "all the average citizen wants is to be protected and left alone, all the avergae soldier wants is to collect his paycheck and not get killed" - Orson Scott Card
    "When the going gets tough the smart get going where the goings easier" - Ben Bova
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  11. #10  
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    zazz

    My design is for a vessel that could be built in the near future, whereas yours is for a more distant future. Ion drives are engines that are being researched right now. Instead of a chemical rocket exhaust, atoms are ionised and accelerated backwards by electromagnetic or electrostatic systems. Since the ions are expelled at high velocity, the forward reaction is high per gram of reaction mass.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_thruster

    You are correct in saying there are various types of ion drive. I prefer not to be specific in types at this point, since research is ongoing to find the most practical design.

    This requires a lot of energy, which would be provided by a nuclear reactor mounted on the central cigar shaped pod. One advantage of the design is that the 'cigar' can be long enough to hold the reactor well away from other parts of the vessel.

    As I said, I think the biggest problem would be protection from cosmic and solar radiation. While there are plenty of people who would volunteer for a 3 year space voyage, and simply take the risk of long term cancers, it would be much better to design in some reasonable protection.
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