The drag coefficient of cylindrical spacecraft in orbit at altitudes greater than 150 km
Abstract
The spacecraft of the Geopotential Research Mission (GRM) are cylindrical in form and designed to fly with their longitudinal axes parallel to their direction of flight. The ratio of length to diameter of these spacecraft is roughly equal to 5.0. Other spacecraft previously flown had corresponding ratios roughly equal to 1.0, and therefore the drag produced by impacts on the lateral surfaces of those spacecraft was not as large as it will be on the GRM spacecraft. Since the drag coefficient is essentially the drag force divided by the frontal area in flight, lateral impacts, when taken into account make the GRM drag coefficient significantly larger than the coefficients used before for shorter spacecraft. A simple formula is derived for the drag coefficient of a cylindrical body flying with its long axis along the direction of flight, and it is used to estimate the drag for the GRM. The formula shows that the drag due to lateral surface impacts depends on the ratio of lengthtodiameter and on a coefficient C sub LS (lateral surface impact coefficient) which can be determined from previous cylindrical spacecraft flown with the same attitude, or can be obtained from laboratory measurements of momentum accommodation coefficients.
 Publication:

NASA STI/Recon Technical Report N
 Pub Date:
 May 1983
 Bibcode:
 1983STIN...8329294H
 Keywords:

 Aerodynamic Coefficients;
 Aerodynamic Drag;
 Cylindrical Bodies;
 Geopotential Research Mission;
 Incidence;
 Knudsen Flow;
 Rarefied Gases;
 Launch Vehicles and Space Vehicles