File:M2-F1 lifting body and Paresev 1B on ramp DVIDS735192.jpg

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English: In this photo of the M2-F1 lifting body and the Paresev 1B on the ramp, the viewer sees two vehicles representing different approaches to building a research craft to simulate a spacecraft able to land on the ground instead of splashing down in the ocean as the Mercury capsules did. The M2-F1 was a lifting body, a shape able to re-enter from orbit and land. The Paresev (Paraglider Research Vehicle) used a Rogallo wing that could be (but never was) used to replace a conventional parachute for landing a capsule-type spacecraft, allowing it to make a controlled landing on the ground. The wingless, lifting body aircraft design was initially conceived as a means of landing an aircraft horizontally after atmospheric reentry. The absence of wings would make the extreme heat of re-entry less damaging to the vehicle. In 1962, Dryden management approved a program to build a lightweight, unpowered lifting body as a prototype to flight test the wingless concept. It would look like a "flying bathtub," and was designated the M2-F1, the "M" referring to "manned" and "F" referring to "flight" version. It featured a plywood shell placed over a tubular steel frame crafted at Dryden. Construction was completed in 1963. The first flight tests of the M2-F1 were over Rogers Dry Lake at the end of a tow rope attached to a hopped-up Pontiac convertible driven at speeds up to about 120 mph. This vehicle needed to be able to tow the M2-F1 on the Rogers Dry Lakebed adjacent to NASA's Flight Research Center (FRC) at a minimum speed of 100 miles per hour. To do that, it had to handle the 400-pound pull of the M2-F1. Walter "Whitey" Whiteside, who was a retired Air Force maintenance officer working in the FRC's Flight Operations Division, was a dirt-bike rider and hot-rodder. Together with Boyden "Bud" Bearce in the Procurement and Supply Branch of the FRC, Whitey acquired a Pontiac Catalina convertible with the largest engine available. He took the car to Bill Straup's renowned hot-rod shop near Long Beach for modification. With a special gearbox and racing slicks, the Pontiac could tow the 1,000-pound M2-F1 110 miles per hour in 30 seconds. It proved adequate for the roughly 400 car tows that got the M2-F1 airborne to prove it could fly safely and to train pilots before they were towed behind a C-47 aircraft and released. These initial car-tow tests produced enough flight data about the M2-F1 to proceed with flights behind the C-47 tow plane at greater altitudes. The C-47 took the craft to an altitude of 12,000 where free flights back to Rogers Dry Lake began. Pilot for the first series of flights of the M2-F1 was NASA research pilot Milt Thompson. Typical glide flights with the M2-F1 lasted about two minutes and reached speeds of 110 to l20 mph. A small solid landing rocket, referred to as the "instant L/D rocket," was installed in the rear base of the M2-F1. This rocket, which could be ignited by the pilot, provided about 250 pounds of thrust for about 10 seconds. The rocket could be used to extend the flight time near landing if needed. More than 400 ground tows and 77 aircraft tow flights were carried out with the M2-F1. The success of Dryden's M2-F1 program led to NASA's development and construction of two heavyweight lifting bodies based on studies at NASA's Ames and Langley research centers--the M2-F2 and the HL-10, both built by the Northrop Corporation, and the U.S. Air Force's X-24 program, with an X-24A and -B built by Martin. The Lifting Body program also heavily influenced the Space Shuttle program. The M2-F1 program demonstrated the feasibility of the lifting body concept for horizontal landings of atmospheric entry vehicles. It also demonstrated a procurement and management concept for prototype flight test vehicles that produced rapid results at very low cost (approximately $50,000, excluding salaries of government employees assigned to the project). The Paresev (Paraglider Rescue Vehicle) was an indirect outgrowth of kite-parachute studies by NACA Langley engineer Francis M. Rogallo. In the early 1960s the "Rogallo wing" seemed an excellent means of returning a spacecraft to Earth. The delta wing design was patented by Mr. Rogallo. In May 1961, Robert R. Gilruth, director NASA's Space Task Group, requested studies of an inflatable Rogallo-type "Parawing" for spacecraft. Several companies responded; North American Aviation produced the most acceptable concept and development was contracted to that company. In November 1961 NASA Headquarters launched a paraglider development program, with Langely doing wind-tunnel studies and the NASA Flight Research Center supporting the North American test program. The North American concept was a capsule type vehicle with a stowed "parawing" that could be deployed and controlled from within for a landing more like an airplane instead of a "splash down" in the ocean as was the practice in the Mercury and later the Gemini and Apollo programs. The logistics became enormous and the price exorbitant, besides which, NASA pilots and engineers felt some baseline experience like building a vehicle and flying a Parawing should be accomplished first. The Paresev (Paraglider Research Vehicle) was used to gain in-flight experience with four different membranes (wings) and was not used to develop the more complicated inflatable deployment system. The Paresev was designed by Charles Richard, of the Flight Research Center's Vehicle and System Dynamics Branch, with the rest of the team being: engineers Richard Klein, Gary Layton, John Orahood, and Joe Wilson; Frank Fedor and LeRoy Barto from the Maintenance and Manufacturing Branch; Project Manager Victor Horton, with Gary Layton becoming Project Manager later on in the Program. Mr. Paul Bikle, Director of the Center, gave instructions that were short and to the point: build a single-seat Paraglider and "do it quick and cheap." The Paresev was unpowered, the "fuselage" an open framework fabricated of welded 4130 steel tubing referred to as a `space frame.' The keel and leading edges of the wings were constructed of 2 1/2-inch diameter aluminum tubing. The leading edge sweep angle was held constant at 50 degrees by a rigid spreader bar. Additional wing structure fabricated of steel tubing ensured structural integrity. Seven weeks after the project was initiated the team rolled out the Paresev 1. It resembled a grown-up tricycle, with a rudimentary seat, an angled tripod mast, and, perched on top of the mast, a Rogallo-type parawing. The pilot sat out in the open, strapped in the seat, with no enclosure of any kind. He controlled the descent rate by tilting the wing fore and aft, and turned by tilting the wing from side to side with a control stick that came from overhead. NASA registered the Paresev, the first NASA research airplane to be constructed totally "in-house," with the Federal Aviation Administration on February 12, 1962. Flight testing started immediately. There was one space frame built called the Paresev that used four different wing types. Paresev 1 had a linen membrane, with the control stick coming from overhead in front of the pilots seat. Paresev 1A had a regulation control stick and a Dacron membrane. Paresev 1B had a smaller Dacron membrane with the space frame remaining the same. Paresev 1C used a half-scale version of the inflatable Gemini parawing with a small change to the space frame. All `space frames,' regardless of the parawing configuration, had a shield with "Paresev 1-A" and the NASA meatball on the front of the vehicle. PARESEV-1 After the space frame was completed a sailmaker was asked to sew the wing membrane according to the planform developed by NASA Flight Research Center personnel. He suggested using Dacron instead of the linen fabric chosen, but yielded to the engineers' specs. A nylon bolt rope was attached in the trailing edge of the 150-square-foot wing membrane. The rope was unrestrained except at the wing tips and was therefore free to equalize the load between the two lobes of the wing. This worked reasonably well, but flight tests proved the wing to be too flexible with it flapping and bulging in alarming ways. The poor membrane design led to trailing edge flutter, with longitudinal and lateral stick forces being severe. A number of different rigging modifications to improve the flying characteristics were tried, but very few were successful and none were predictable. Everything seemed to affect stick forces in the worst way. The fifth flight aloft lasted 10 seconds. On a ground tow the Paresev and pilot fell 10 feet. Considerable damage was done to the Paresev with the pilot, Bruce Peterson, being taken to the base hospital. Injuries sustained by the pilot were not serious. After this accident the Paresev was extensively rebuilt and renamed, Paresev-1A. PARESEV 1-A The sailmaker was asked again to construct a 150-square-foot membrane the way he wanted to. The resulting wing membrane had excellent contours in flight and was made from 6 ounce Dacron. The space frame was rebuilt with more sophistication than the Paresev 1 had. The shock absorbers were Ford automotive parts, the wing universal joint was a 1948 Pontiac part, and the tires and wheels were from a Cessna 175 aircraft. The overhead stick was replaced with a stick and pulley arrangement that operated more like conventional aircraft controls. This vehicle had much improved stick forces and handling qualities. The instrumentation used to obtain data was quite crude, partially as a result of the desire to keep the program simple and low in cost and also because there was no onboard power. To measure performance, technicians installed a large alpha vane on the wing apex with a scale at the trailing edge that the pilot could read directly. A curved bubble level measured the vehicle's attitude, and a Fairchild camera recorded the glide slope PARESEV 1-B The Paresev 1-B used the Paresev 1-A space frame with a smaller Dacron wing (100 square feet) and was flight tested to evaluate its handling qualities with lower lift-to-drag values. One NASA project engineer described its gliding ability as "pretty scary." PARESEV 1-C The space frame of the vehicle remained almost unchanged from the earlier vehicles. However, a new control box gave the pilot the ability to increase or decrease the nitrogen in the inflatable wing supports to compensate for the changing density of the air. Two bottles of nitrogen provided an extra supply of nitrogen. The vehicle featured a partially inflatable wing. The whole wing was not inflatable; the three chambers that acted as spars and supported the wing inflated. The center spar ran fore and aft and measured 191 inches; two other inflatable spars formed the leading edges. These three compartments were filled with nitrogen under pressure to make them rigid. The Paresev in this configuration was expected to closely approximate the aerodynamic characteristics that would be encountered with the Gemini space capsule with a parawing extended. The Paresev was very unstable in flight with this configuration. The first Paresev flights began with tows across the dry lakebed, in 1962, using a NASA vehicle, an International Harvester carry-all (6 cylinder). Eventually ground and airtows were done using a Stearman sport biplane (450 hp), a Piper Super Cub (150-180 hp), Cessna L-19 (200 hp Bird Dog) and a Boeing-Vertol HC-1A. Speed range of the Paresev was about 35-65 mph. The Paresev completed nearly 350 flights during a research program from 1962 until 1964. Pilots flying the Paresev included NASA pilots Milton Thompson, Bruce Peterson, and Neil Armstrong from Dryden, Robert Champine from Langley, and astronaut Gus Grissom, plus North American test pilot Charles Hetzel. The Paresev was legally transferred to the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. Despite its looks, the Paresev was a useful research aircraft that helped develop a new way to fly. Although the Rogallo wing was never used on a spacecraft, it revolutionized the sport of hang gliding, and a different but related kind of wing will be used on the X-38 technology demonstrator for a crew return vehicle from the International space station. NASA Identifier: NIX-E-10598
Author Glenn Research Center
DVIDS ID 735192


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This image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain in the United States.

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current09:19, 15 April 2015Thumbnail for version as of 09:19, 15 April 20151,536 × 1,415 (322 KB) (talk | contribs)== {{int:filedesc}} == {{milim | description = {{en|1=In this photo of the M2-F1 lifting body and the Paresev 1B on the ramp, the viewer sees two vehicles representing different approaches to building a research craft to simulate a spacecraft able to l...
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