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An Anlaysis of the Behavior of Long Tetherlines in Space

Report Number: AMRL TDR 62-123
Author(s): Donald D. Mueller
Corporate Author: Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories
Laboratory: Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories
Date of Publication: 1962-11
Pages: 13
Contract: Laboratory Research - No Contract
Project: 7184
Task: 718405
PB Number: PB112190
AD Number: AD0293222

Abstract:
To determine the feasibility of using long tetherlines to aid in orbital docking or to recover astronauts operating outside a vehicle an analysis was made of the behavior of an inert mass on the end of a tetherline as it is reeled in toward a more m ssive vehicle. Only copla ar mo ions were considered. Three methods of reeling the mass in toward the vehicle were analyzed: impulsive jerks on a slack tetherline, constant line tension, and constant reel-in speed. The first two methods result in complex pat s which intersect t e vehicle only after long periods of ime. The third method results in a spiral path in which both the velocity and centripetal acceleration of the mass approach infinity as the line length approaches zero. Since angular momentum of the mass around the vehicle is very nearly conserved, the magnitude of the retrieval problem depends primarily on the initial length of the tetherline and the initial tangential velocity of the mass. Reeling in a line a few hundred feet in length can result in forces which would be intolerable to an astronaut.

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